November 15, 2018 / 7:59 AM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 2-Private equity group 3i's Action defers store openings

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LONDON, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Private equity group 3i’s biggest investment, discount retailer Action, is delaying 20 store openings to early 2019 to manage peak December demand in France.

Action has grown quickly but 3i said on Thursday it had been experiencing supply chain and product availability challenges.

The buyout company bought into Dutch retailer Action in 2011 and its exit strategy has long been a subject of speculation.

3i Chief Executive Simon Borrows told Reuters that an initial public offering is off the table for the next four or five years.

Due to the end of its Eurofund V, there will be minority stake sales before the end of 2019, he said.

Its update on Action came as 3i reported a first-half total return up 11 percent year on year to 728 million pounds ($947.56 million) boosted by gains on some of its larger investments.

Total return includes the change in valuation of the group’s portfolio, profits on disposals and income from the portfolio and foreign exchange effects minus the costs of the business.

London-listed 3i, which has 8.3 billion pounds in private equity assets under management, reported net asset value per share of 776 pence, up from 724 pence at March 31.

It completed two new investments in Royal Sanders and International Cruise and Excursions at a cost of 245 million pounds.

“We have good momentum across our portfolio, but remain cautious about the pricing of new investment in general and are focusing our origination efforts particularly on bilateral processes and on our buy-and-build platforms,” Borrows said, referring to deals where 3i is the only buyer and building on one asset through smaller acquisitions.

$1 = 0.7683 pounds Reporting by Dasha Afanasieva; editing by David Goodman and Jason Neely

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