UPDATE 1-3i sells Norma stake, readies more sales -source

Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:10pm GMT

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* 3i sells its entire 16.7 percent stake in Norma

* Firm preparing to sell four more firms -source

* The four companies include Canada's Mold Masters -source

By Kylie MacLellan and Brenda Goh

LONDON, Jan 10 (Reuters) - British private equity group 3i has sold all of its remaining 16.7 percent stake in German engineering group Norma for about 109 million euros ($142.2 million).

A source familiar with the situation said 3i was now preparing to sell four more companies, including Canadian manufacturer Mold Masters and UK software maker Civica.

The sales come amid an overhaul of the firm under new chief executive Simon Borrows, who is seeking to beef up 3i's earnings and return more cash to shareholders.

The private equity group said on Thursday said it placed 5.3 million Norma shares with investors for 20.50 euros each and was no longer a shareholder in the German company.

The sale price was a discount of about 4.5 percent to Norma's closing share price on Wednesday and below its Frankfurt listing price of 21 euros per share in April 2011. Norma's shares on Thursday closed at 21.05 euros.

The sale was "significantly oversubscribed", 3i said.

The firm, which invested in Norma in 2006, had banked about 138 million euros by reducing its 73 percent stake through the initial public offering. It raised a total of around 121 million euros from two further sell-downs in June and September last year.

The sale, which was run by Berenberg Bank, took 3i's total return to 5.5 times its original investment.

It has now appointed Morgan Stanley to advise on the sale of Mold Masters, a company worth about C$700 million ($710 million)which makes plastics temperature control systems, and is considering bids from private equity groups including PAI Partners for its minority stake in French medical diagnostic company Labco, the source said.

3i is also looking to sell Civica and German-Danish ferry operator Scandlines over the next few months, the source said.

It is set to launch the sale of Scandlines with Allianz Capital Partners this month in a process that is likely to attract Scandlines rivals such as Italy's Grimaldi and other private equity groups.

3i declined to comment on the four sales. Its shares closed 1.5 percent higher at 234.1 pence ($3.80) on Thursday.