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3i takes £14m writedown on retailer Hobbs

Britain's oldest private-equity firm has written down the value of its investment in the retailer Hobbs because of poor trading over the festive period.

3i bought the upmarket womenswear chain for £111m from Barclays Private Equity in 2004 but has been rumoured to be looking at a sale, which it now denies. The company, which also owns Agent Provocateur, said it had banked £557m from disposals during the nine months to 31 December and its net asset value per share rose 3 per cent to 333p.

"Markets remain challenging for a number of our portfolio companies and the good overall performance was offset by a significant value reduction in the period of £14m for our investment in Hobbs, due to trading weakness in the last quarter of 2013," it added.