Debt sales boost 3i Infra liquidity

3i Infrastructure, the London-listed 3i Group subsidiary, has released an interim statement showing a strong cash balance boosted by the sales of junior debt tranches in Thames Water and NGW Arqiva.

3i Infrastructure, the London Stock Exchange-listed firm, had seen its cash balances grow to £248.2 million (€275.5 million; $399.1 million) by yesterday, compared with £174.6 million on 31 March. The figure was revealed as part of an interim management statement released by 3i Infrastructure, covering the period 1 April 2011 to 4 July 2011.

During April, 3i Infrastructure realised a total of £55 million from the sale of junior debt tranches in Thames Water, the UK water utility, and NGW Arqiva, the UK telecoms business. The Thames Water tranche delivered proceeds of £21.3 million, representing an uplift of £200,000 over its value on 31 March; while the NGW Arqiva tranche was sold for £34.2 million, a profit of £1.9 million over the 31 March value.

The statement claims that the portfolio is “performing well and continues to deliver a good yield”. Dividends and interest received from portfolio assets in the first quarter to 30 June 2011 totalled £19.8 million. “The company has ample liquidity to invest in the current pipeline,” said Peter Sedgwick, chairman of 3i Infrastructure, in the statement.

That pipeline now includes the UK government’s Thameslink Rolling Stock Procurement Programme (TRSP), a private finance initiative (PFI) project covering the delivery, maintenance and financing of around 1,200 vehicles and the construction and financing of two depots. 3i Infrastructure is part of the Siemens and Cross London Trains consortium, also including Siemens Project Ventures and Innisfree, which was awarded preferred bidder status last month.

The TRSP procurement is part of a £6 billion upgrade programme for the Thameslink rail network in south-east England. The new Thameslink trains will begin operating in 2015 alongside existing rolling stock, with the full new fleet in use by the end of 2018.

At 31 March 2011, 3i Infrastructure had a portfolio of 17 assets valued at £822 million and net assets of £996 million. The company listed on the London Stock Exchange in March 2007, raising £703 million in an initial public offering and a further £115 million in a subsequent placing and open offer in July 2008.