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3i realises investment in Witwood Food Products

3i, Europe's leading private equity and venture capital company, today announces it has sold its minority shareholding in Witwood Food Products ("Witwood"), a manufacturer of specialist food coatings for the frozen and chilled food industry.

3i will sell its shares back to the company in a deal which represents an IRR of 16.5% over the 11 years of its investment.

3i originally acquired a minority stake in Witwood in 1994, backing the management buy-out led by Chairman David Osborne.  3i has been a long term partner in the business - backing the company through two further investment rounds in 1998 and 1999.  This investment enabled Witwood to expand overseas into Australia and the Far East. 

In April 2004, Bernard Cook, a member of 3i''s independent directors programme, joined the board as non-executive director.  Bernard has a wealth of experience of the industry, having worked at numerous food companies including United Central Bakeries, The Sandwich Factory and Whitworths Group.

David Bell, 3i Portfolio Manager, commented: "Witwood has been a successful investment for 3i since we first acquired a stake over 11 years ago.  The company has grown its sales and profits substantially and has expanded successfully overseas to become a market leader in its industry.  We wish the management team every success for the future." 

David Osborne, Witwood Chairman, commented: "3i has been a very supportive partner and their knowledge of the food industry has ensured that we have been able to grow the company and exploit opportunities both in the UK and on a world-wide basis."

Portfolio Manager, David Bell, led the deal on behalf of 3i, with the shareholders receiving corporate finance advice from Morgan Atherton of KPMG.  3i received legal advice from Wragge & Co, whilst the company was advised by Osborne Clarke.

Notes to editors

About 3i 
3i is a world leader in private equity and venture capital. We focus on Buyouts, Growth Capital and Venture Capital and invest across Europe, in the United States and in Asia Pacific. Our competitive advantage comes from our international network and the strength and breadth of our relationships in business. These underpin the value that we deliver to our portfolio and to our shareholders.

3i Growth Capital 
3i''s Growth Capital business focuses on investing minority stakes in high growth companies expanding organically or through acquisition.  The business currently manages 300 investments across Europe and Asia with a value in excess of €1.8bn and invests across a broad range of industry sectors, including healthcare, financial services, food & drink, media, IT services, support services and oil & gas. 

Recent investments include Nimbus, India, €36m; Boxer, Sweden, €84m; Clinica Baviera, Spain, €40m; Hayley Conference Centres, UK, €60m; Renta Corporation, Spain, €20m; Novem CID, Germany, €25m; Vetoquinol, France, €20m and PEARL, Singapore, €8m. 

Recent exits include Petrofac, UK, €1,083m; Cannon Avent, UK, €450m; EAT, UK, €57m; Republic, UK, €150m and Highland Energy, Germany, €178m.

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