Britain's 3i sells Mold-Masters for $963 mln

LONDON Tue Feb 12, 2013 4:31am EST

LONDON Feb 12 (Reuters) - British private equity firm 3i has sold plastic equipment maker Mold-Masters to U.S. rival Milacron for 615 million pounds ($963 million) as part of its debt-reduction disposal plan.

Under pressure from frustrated shareholders to cut its 1.2 billion pound ($1.88 billion) debt to less than 1 billion pounds by June, 3i had said it will focus on asset disposals to achieve this goal and boost its weak share price.

Proceeds from the deal announced on Tuesday will be about 219 million pounds ($343 million) - 2.6 times 3i's initial 84 million pound investment in the Canadian designer and manufacturer of advanced hot-runner systems, temperature controllers and auxiliary equipment for the plastics industry.

Since 3i's investment, Mold-Masters has accelerated its organic growth in Asia, Europe and South America and also made a number of add-on acquisitions to expand its geographical reach and product offering.

Between 2009 and 2012, the company increased turnover by 61.3 percent, to C$ 271 million ($269 million) from C$168 million.

The transaction is expected to close by April, subject to regulatory approvals.

Other 3i disposals could include French medical diagnostics business Labco, UK software company Civica and German-Danish ferry operator Scandlines, according to a note from Liberum Capital.

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