Report: 3i Raising £1 Billion Growth Fund

LONDON (Reuters) – Private equity firm 3i Group Plc (III.L) is planning to raise a 1 billion pound ($1.6 billion) fund to buy minority stakes in small businesses in a return to its investment roots, the Sunday Times newspaper reported.

The paper, without citing sources, said 3i was talking to third-party investors to drum up interest.

3i was not available for comment.

A specialist in early stage investment, 3i branched out in recent years into bigger buyout deals, but these have been hit hard by the drying up of lending in the economic downturn. (Reporting by Mark Potter; Editing by Dan Lalor) ($1 = 0.6269 pound)