3i triples its money on Smart & Cook

UK-listed private equity group 3i has sold Smart & Cook to Axa for £140 million, generating a return of over three times its investment.

Uk-listed buyout group 3i’s growth capital division has sold its stake in Smart & Cook, a UK-based independent commercial broker, to insurer AXA for around £140 million ($279 million, €205 million).

The broker targets the small and medium-sized enterprise market in the UK regions.

3i’s Growth Capital fund originally invested £11 million in the company in March 2004 and later invested a further £4 million. 3i said it made a return of more than three times its investment in the company.

Smart & Cook recruited 14 brokers during 3i’s tenure, while the buyout group also introduced the company to its chairman David Burnett and the non-executive director Adrian Burn. Burnett is a partner at TT International, a boutique hedge fund manager, and Burn was previously managing partner at Binder Hamlyn and a partner at Arthur Andersen.

3i Growth Capital is the world’s largest growth capital fund investing over €1billion ($1.36 billion) every year in businesses across Europe, Asia and the US. It has invested recently in renewable energies company Electrawinds and restaurant group Giraffe.