May 17, 2018 / 7:01 AM / in a year

UPDATE 1-3i's full-year total return slips to $1.9 bln

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LONDON, May 17 (Reuters) - Private equity firm 3i on Thursday posted a 24 percent total return on shareholders’ opening funds in the year to end-March, helped by asset sales by its infrastructure arm.

London-listed 3i reported a 1.4 billion pound ($1.9 billion) return driven by investment in companies including Action, Scandlines, ATESTEO and Basic-Fit, slightly lower than the 1.6 billion pound return it saw a year earlier.

The group announced a total dividend of 30 pence for the year, up from 26.5 pence.

Chief Executive Simon Borrows ruled out starting work on the sale or initial public offering (IPO) of Dutch discount retailer Action this year. Action is 3i’s biggest asset and is valued at more than 2 billion pounds.

“We are not embarking on an IPO or sale exercise in the near future. We like investments that grow 20 percent plus every year,” he said on a call with Reuters.

The group also hailed a “very good” year for its infrastructure division, which advised 3i Infrastructure plc on six investments and commitments totalling 525 million pounds and the disposals of Elenia and AWG, which helped to generate a total return of 29 percent for 3iN and a special dividend of 143 million pounds for 3i.

It closed two European infrastructure fund platforms, raising assets of more than 1 billion pounds and invested 177 million pounds in its maiden U.S. infrastructure investment, Smarte Carte.

3i said the year had been dominated by global politics and increasing tensions and expected further volatility in the coming year.

“We think the financing market will remain pretty good, we think the stock markets will have more volatility but will be good... it looks set to be another year of earnings momentum,” Borrows said.

$1 = 0.7389 pounds Reporting by Sinead Cruise and Dasha Afanasieva; editing by Carolyn Cohn and Jason Neely

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