UK-based private equity major 3i Group plc has raised a €1.2-billion ($1.64 billion) for its first growth capital fund with external investors. The new fund will make investments in Asia besides Europe and North America, said a 3i statement today. The new fund has managed to raise €400 million commitments from external investors from Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America. The rest of the amount has been brought in by 3i.

3i, an active investor in the Indian market which also manages a $1.2-billion India-dedicated infrastructure fund, made growth investments from its balance sheet till now. It has more than half a dozen growth investments in India. These include power transmission and distribution equipment player Vijai Electricals, clinical research organisation SIRO Clinpharm and tractor manufacturer International Tractors.

It also has several media-related investments which include Nimbus Communications, which runs 24-hour cricket channel Neo Sports, out-of-home media company OOH Media and digital cinema chain UFO Moviez.

3i has investment professionals dedicated to growth capital, infrastructure and buyout strategies in India. Interestingly, the new fund comes at a time when Mahesh Chhabria, one of the top executives looking after growth capital at 3i, is leaving to join Actis.

3i Asia chief Anil Ahuja recently said that the PE firm is looking to invest in media, healthcare, technology and financial services space besides infrastructure in India. "Valuations have been fair even in the financial sector. We did see some stuff in the financial sector last year, but things did not work out," he said in an interview to Business Standard earlier this month.

3i's new growth fund also announced its first investment of €84 million in Refresco, a European fruit juice producer. The fund expects to invest in 20 mid-market companies, typically investing €25 million to €150 million of equity.

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