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3i Group Said to Begin Hiring for Private-Equity Unit

3i Group Plc, Britain’s oldest private-equity firm, is looking to hire dealmakers after more than a year of staff cuts, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.

The London-based company plans to add associates to its private-equity teams in the U.K. and Germany, the two markets where it sees the best potential for profitable buyouts, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.

3i has also had informal talks with potential candidates for a senior London-based role, two of the people said.

The return to hiring is a change in strategy by Chief Executive Officer Simon Borrows. 3i has cut 160 employees, equivalent to a third of its workforce, and closed six of the firm’s 19 offices since June 2012 as Borrows sought to reduce the company’s gross debt below 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion).

That target was achieved by June 30, according to 3i’s most recent quarterly results. While the people said 3i still expects to be a net seller of assets, the firm is beginning to make investments to build investor confidence for a new capital pool. Earlier this month, 3i announced it had invested 77 million euros ($103 million) in GIF, a German automotive equipment maker.

A spokeswoman for 3i based in London declined to comment.

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