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A new focus

3i’s managing partner Alan Giddins explains to Marc Mullen why the most recognised mid-market private equity brand has refocused on its core strengths and is embracing businesses with international growth ambitions.

Five years ago, Alan Giddins and Menno Antal were appointed joint heads of 3i’s buy-outs business. In October 2011, investment banker, Simon Borrows joined the 3i board from Greenhill Bank. Six months later he was appointed CEO. In 2012, in one of Borrows’ first moves, Giddins and Antal were appointed co-heads of the entire private equity business, bringing together 3i’s buy-outs and growth capital divisions.

This step formed part of a major reorganisation of the 70-year-old FTSE listed investment firm. The organisation is now focused on three clear business lines – private equity, infrastructure and debt management.

Last year private equity provided the biggest returns for the multi-asset fund manager. In the year to March 2015, £719m of the £805m gross investment return 3i made was delivered by private equity. “We reviewed where we’d had the most impact on the businesses we had invested in,” says Giddins. “We found it was on businesses where we had been able to really internationalise their growth. It was where we were able to leverage our own geographic footprint and relationships to best support management teams. This also differentiated us from most other mid-market firms which are, on the whole, more single geography-centric in where they look to invest.”

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