Banks 'halted 3i flotation'

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A LAST-MINUTE change of heart by Barclays and National Westminster led to the postponement of a planned autumn flotation for 3i, the venture capital group, it was claimed yesterday.

The two banks, which together own 41 per cent of 3i, were said to have believed that the company's value would increase during the next two years and recommended delaying the flotation. Their advice was reportedly at odds with Barings, 3i's merchant bank, which had argued for an autumn sale. The abandonmentled to the resignation last week of Alan Wheatley, 3i's chairman.