RNS Number : 1274N

3i Group PLC

28 January 2021

28 January 2021

3i Group plc

FY2021 Q3 performance update

 Another resilient quarter from the 3i investment portfolio 
   *    Increase in NAV per share to 936 pence (30 September 
        2020: 905 pence) despite the negative translation 
        effect of sterling strengthening in the quarter 
        (GBP156 million) 
   *    Total return of 18.7% for the nine months to 31 
        December 2020 and 92% of our top 20 Private Equity 
        portfolio by value grew last 12 month ("LTM") 
        earnings to September 2020 
   *    Good sales, EBITDA and cash generation for Action in 
        2020 despite significant Covid-19 disruption 
   *    Continued very strong performance in portfolio 
        companies operating in the consumer, e-commerce, 
        healthcare and business services sectors 
   *    Completed a new Private Equity investment in MPM and 
        three bolt-on acquisitions for GartenHaus, Havea and 
        Cirtec Medical. Signed a further bolt-on acquisition 
        for Royal Sanders 
   *    Good share price performance from 3i Infrastructure 
        plc ("3iN") in the quarter 

Simon Borrows, Chief Executive, commented:

"3i delivered another solid performance in the quarter ending 31 December 2020. Both our Private Equity and Infrastructure teams have continued to perform well. Our Private Equity portfolio continues to benefit from secular growth trends, with 92% of our top 20 investments by value growing LTM earnings to September 2020, with particularly strong performances in our high growth investments. This was another decent quarter from Action which has bounced back very strongly after each lockdown interruption."

Private Equity

Portfolio performance and valuation at 31 December 2020

The Private Equity portfolio continued to demonstrate resilient performance in the third quarter of FY2021 despite the return of significant disruption caused by the reintroduction of lockdowns and other Covid-19 related restrictions throughout Europe and the UK.

Recognising the particular interest of investors regarding how these additional lockdown measures have impacted the performance of Action, we are providing more information in this Q3 performance update than we ordinarily would do, noting that Action's 2020 year end audit is not yet complete. A more detailed update on its audited financial performance will be provided as usual at a separate Capital Markets Seminar in March.

In the financial year ending 3 January 2021, Action generated revenue growth of just over 10% and opened 164 new stores, taking its total to 1,716 stores across eight countries. Provisional EBITDA, subject to audit, in 2020 was EUR616 million, 14% ahead of 2019. Action generated strong cash flow over the year, finishing with cash of EUR590 million after the repayment of the outstanding RCF balance. Despite the periods of major disruption due to country lockdowns in March, April, May and again in November and December, like-for-like ("LFL") performance over 52 weeks came in at -1.4% with the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and Luxembourg all trading well ahead of their budgets in both LFL and EBITDA for the year.

Action started 2020 very strongly and traded ahead of budget for the first two months of the year. However, the spring lockdowns resulted in an EBITDA shortfall to budget of around EUR85 million by the beginning of May. This shortfall reduced to less than EUR15 million through very strong trading from May to the end of October. At this point, the further winter lockdown measures commencing in November reduced EBITDA against budget by a further EUR34 million, leading to an annual result c. EUR49 million below budget. Very strong trading in France, Belgium and Poland in December resulted in excellent sell through of all seasonal categories and closing stocks below 2019 levels.

The Action results for 2020 incorporate a 53(rd) week this year. This was a short trading week, with a significant number of Action stores closed or restricted to selling essential items. This extra week contributed around EUR7 million of EBITDA. The cash balance reduced by EUR38 million primarily as a result of a 5(th) quarterly interest payment.

At 31 December 2020, our valuation methodology for Action remained unchanged, reflecting run-rate earnings at 3 January 2021, a post discount run-rate multiple of 18.0x and the capital structure at Action's year end. The reduction in new store openings as a result of the pandemic from 230 in 2019 to 164 in 2020 led to a reduction in the EBITDA run-rate adjustment of EUR25 million to EUR35 million.

The lockdown situation across Europe is fluid and Action's current trading position is again affected by restrictions in a number of countries. In France, Belgium, Poland and Luxembourg stores are open and selling the full catalogue, while most German stores and all Austrian and Czech stores are open but selling essential items only. Action has now implemented a Click & Collect facility for non-essential items in stores in Germany and Austria. All stores in the Netherlands have been completely closed since the second half of December 2020. We expect lockdown restrictions will be a headwind for Action's Q1 2021, but we are planning for a very strong recovery as restrictions are lifted.

Royal Sanders, Cirtec Medical, Luqom and Tato continued to generate strong earnings growth and cash in the third quarter and are well positioned to maintain this performance into the final quarter of FY2021. The Basic-Fit share price increased by 48% in the quarter, despite the significant disruption caused by enforced gym closures. Our most recent new investments in MPM and GartenHaus and further investment in SaniSure are performing well and in line with our expectations.

Measures and initiatives put in place to mitigate the disruption caused by Covid-19 restrictions have enabled our portfolio companies in the retail sector (Hans Anders and BoConcept) to maintain a steady level of trading in the quarter. Following signs of a gradual recovery in the Asian automotive market, Formel D and Q Holding's automotive business saw more stable trading in the period, although market conditions are expected to remain challenging in Q1 2021.

The travel sector remains very challenging. Audley Travel saw an uptick in bookings from November following positive news on Covid-19 vaccines, but the extensive travel restrictions mean that significant uncertainty remains. Arrivia has been relatively resilient throughout the pandemic to date, largely due to the nature of its recurring membership business. However, no cruise sailings and a low level of resort vacations are expected to impact performance in the first half of 2021.

Private Equity investments and realisations

 Private Equity                                                                                             Investment 
 investment                    Type           Business description                     Date                       GBPm 
----------------------------  -------------  ---------------------------------------  ---------------  --------------- 
                                              An international leader in branded, 
 MPM                           New             premium and natural pet food            December 2020               124 
                                              Provider of experiential tailor-made 
 Audley Travel                 Further (1)     travel                                  November 2020                46 
                                              Leading online retailer of garden 
                                               buildings, sheds, saunas and related 
                                               products in Germany, 
 GartenHaus                    Further (1)     Austria, Switzerland and Netherlands    December 2020                13 
============================  =============  =======================================  ===============  =============== 
 Action                        Further        General merchandise discount retailer    December 2020                 9 
 Total Q3 FY2021 investment                                                                                        192 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  --------------- 
 H1 FY2021 investment                                                                                              231 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  --------------- 
 Total investment as at 
  31 December 2020                                                                                                 423 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  --------------- 
   1      Net of subsequent return of funding in Q3 FY2021. 

In December 2020, we completed the GBP124 million new investment in MPM, our second new investment in FY2021.

We have continued to grow portfolio value through our buy-and-build strategy. Following our new investment in GartenHaus in September, we invested a further GBP16 million to support the acquisition of Polhus, a leading online retailer of garden houses and related products based in Sweden. GartenHaus also returned GBP3 million of its funding in the quarter.

In addition, and with no funding from 3i, Havea completed the acquisition Laudavie, which owns Calmosine, the French specialist in children's food supplements, and Cirtec Medical acquired NovelCath, a fast-growing catheter-based delivery systems manufacturer based in Minnesota. At the end of December 2020, Royal Sanders signed the acquisition of Royal Herkel, a private label and contract manufacturing producer of nutritional supplements, medical devices, pharmaceutical and cosmetic products based in the Netherlands.

In November 2020, we invested a further GBP49 million of capital to support Audley Travel through this difficult trading period, GBP3 million of which was subsequently returned following investment by other shareholders. In December 2020, we purchased a small equity stake in Action for GBP9 million.

In the quarter, we received total Private Equity realisation proceeds of GBP28 million, including GBP17 million from the sale of Navayuga, GBP10 million of further proceeds from the sale of Kinolt and GBP1 million of other deferred consideration.


3iN's share price performed well in the quarter, closing up 6% at 307.5 pence (30 September 2020: 289 pence), valuing 3i's 30% stake at GBP828 million (30 September 2020: GBP778 million). We also recognised dividend income of GBP13 million from 3iN in the period. 3iN completed the acquisition of further stakes in their existing Dutch PPP projects and overall the 3iN portfolio has continued to demonstrate its resilience.

In the period, we received proceeds of GBP30 million from the sale of our stake in Krishnapatnam Port.


Scandlines' performance was stable in the period, with freight volumes remaining close to 2019 levels. New travel restrictions were put in place in September 2020 between Germany and Scandinavia, which resulted in a reduction in both leisure travellers and border shop customers from the solid levels seen in the latter half of the summer. Our core DCF valuation assumptions remain consistent with the September 2020 valuation.

Top 10 investments by value at 31 December 2020

                                             Valuation   Valuation 
                   Valuation    Valuation       Sep-20      Dec-20 
                   basis        currency          GBPm        GBPm   Activity in the quarter 
----------------  -----------  -----------  ----------  ----------  -------------------------------------- 
 Action            Earnings     EUR              4,269       4,426 
                  -----------  -----------  ----------  ----------  -------------------------------------- 
 3iN               Quoted       GBP                778         828 
                  -----------  -----------  ----------  ----------  -------------------------------------- 
 Scandlines        DCF          EUR                452         456 
                  -----------  -----------  ----------  ----------  -------------------------------------- 
                                                                     Completed acquisition of NovelCath in 
 Cirtec Medical    Earnings     USD                374         379    December 2020 
                  -----------  -----------  ----------  ----------  -------------------------------------- 
 Royal Sanders     Earnings     EUR                294         349 
                  -----------  -----------  ----------  ----------  -------------------------------------- 
 Tato              Earnings     GBP                247         308 
                  -----------  -----------  ----------  ----------  -------------------------------------- 
 Evernex           Earnings     EUR                296         292 
                  -----------  -----------  ----------  ----------  -------------------------------------- 
 Hans Anders       Earnings     EUR                272         270 
                  -----------  -----------  ----------  ----------  -------------------------------------- 
 WP                Earnings     EUR                260         267 
                  -----------  -----------  ----------  ----------  -------------------------------------- 
                                                                     Completed acquisition of Laudavie in 
 Havea             Earnings     EUR                253         247    November 2020 
                  -----------  -----------  ----------  ----------  -------------------------------------- 

The 10 investments in the table above comprise 78% (30 September 2020: 78%) of the total Proprietary Capital portfolio value of GBP10,048 million (30 September 2020: GBP9,578 million).

Total return and NAV position

We recognised a net GBP156 million loss on foreign exchange in the quarter, as both the euro and US dollar weakened against sterling. As at 31 December 2020, 69% of the Group's net assets were in euro and 14% were in US dollar. Based on that, a 1% movement in the euro and US dollar would result in a total return movement of GBP62 million and GBP13 million respectively, net of any hedging. The diluted NAV per share increased to 936 pence (30 September 2020: 905 pence) or 918.5 pence after deducting the 17.5 pence per share first FY2021 dividend, which was paid on 13 January 2021.

Balance sheet

At 31 December 2020, gross debt was GBP975 million (30 September 2020: GBP975 million), net debt was GBP559 million and gearing 6.2%. The first FY2021 dividend of GBP169 million (or 17.5 pence per share) was paid on 13 January 2021. At the end of December 2020, we increased our RCF from GBP400 million to GBP500 million and extended its maturity to 2026. The RCF is undrawn and, together with cash of GBP416 million, provided liquidity of GBP916 million at 31 December 2020.

- ENDS -


 1.   Balance sheet values are stated net of foreign exchange translation. Where applicable, the 
       GBP equivalents at 31 December 2020 in this update have been calculated at a currency exchange 
       rate of EUR1.1171: GBP1 and $1.3669: GBP1 respectively. 
 2.   At 31 December 2020 3i had 966 million diluted shares. 
 3.   Action was valued using a post discount run-rate EBITDA multiple of 18.0x based on its run-rate 
       earnings to 
       3 January 2021. 

For further information, please contact:

Silvia Santoro

Group Investor Relations Director

Tel: 020 7975 3258

Kathryn van der Kroft

Communications Director

Tel: 020 7975 3021

About 3i Group

3i is a leading international investment manager focused on mid-market Private Equity and Infrastructure. Our core investment markets are northern Europe and North America. For further information, please visit: www.3i.com .

All statements in this performance update relate to the three month period ended 31 December 2020 unless otherwise stated. The financial information is unaudited and is presented on 3i's non-GAAP Investment basis in order to provide users with the most appropriate description of the drivers of 3i's performance. Net asset value ("NAV") and total return are the same on the Investment basis and on an IFRS basis. Details of the differences between 3i's consolidated financial statements prepared on an IFRS basis and under the Investment basis are provided in the 2020 Annual report and accounts. There have been no material changes to the financial position of 3i from the end of this quarter to the date of this announcement.

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 28, 2021 02:00 ET (07:00 GMT)