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3i to Pay Special Dividend After Asset Sale Proceeds Jump

3i Group Plc, Britain’s largest publicly traded private-equity firm, said that it will pay a special dividend after proceeds from asset sales almost doubled.

Realizations climbed to 528 million pounds ($846 million) in the six months ended Sept. 30 from 268 million pounds in the year-earlier period, the London-based company said in a statement today. 3i said it also it expects to exceed its goal of eliminating 60 million pounds of operating costs by March.

3i has been under pressure to slow the pace of investments and return cash to shareholders. The company signaled in July it would boost payments to investors as debt declined. Activist investor Edward Bramson yesterday sold his stake in the company after the stock climbed 71 percent in London trading this year.

“Given our strong run of realizations, combined with a net cash position and good levels of liquidity, we are initiating additional shareholder distributions,” Chief Executive Simon Borrows said in the statement.

3i will pay 20 pence a share in dividends for the year through March 2014, including an annual base dividend of 8.1 pence and special 4 pence payout. Gross debt fell to 873 million pounds from 1.25 billion pounds a year ago. Net asset value rose to 322 pence a share from 311 pence at the end of March.

The shares fell 4.6 percent to 353.80 pence in London. They have increased about 63 percent this year, giving the company a market value of about 3.4 billion pounds.

Borrows told reporters on a call the company has no plans to raise additional buyout funds with money from outside investors in the current fiscal year or the next. 3i’s last fund, a 5 billion-euro ($6.7 billion) pool raised in 2006, is now valued at par, compared with a 24 percent discount to par in March 2012.

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