Larcombe exits 3i after 30 years with £5.4m pension pot

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The Independent Online

Brian Larcombe, the 30-year veteran of the private equity house 3i, yesterday retired from his role as chief executive of the £4bn company aged only 50.

Brian Larcombe, the 30-year veteran of the private equity house 3i, yesterday retired from his role as chief executive of the £4bn company aged only 50.

He has been chief executive of the group - the largest publicly traded private equity business in Europe - for seven years and was finance director when it floated in 1994. Shares in the company have risen 25 per cent over his time as chief executive but the company fell foul of the dotcom bubble in 2000, investing in technology stocks that failed to deliver. Its assets have halved in value in the past four years.

Mr Larcombe, who worked his way up the ranks of the company from local branch director to chief executive, was paid £729,000 for the year to the end of March, a 34 per cent increase on the previous year. He also owns shares in the company worth around £4.5m. His pension fund is worth £5.4m, an annual pension of £409,000. But his actual retirement income is likely to be less, as these figures are calculated on the basis that he would retire at aged 60.

The company has been trying to undertake larger buyouts, moving away from its traditional focus on providing venture capital for small and medium-sized businesses. One of its biggest successes, however, was the sale of the low-cost airline Go Fly to Easyjet in 2002. Easyjet paid nearly three times what 3i had invested. Mr Larcombe said yesterday: "3i is a different business from seven years ago. We have seen both good and difficult times over this period but I am pleased to be leaving the company in excellent health."

In a trading statement, the company yesterday said provisions for failing investments would be lower than last year. Analysts are expecting 3i to post an increase in net assets this year for the first time since 2000. But recent fund raising exercises have been slow.

The company said yesterday that there were strong internal candidates for chief executive but that it was looking outside the group. Michael Queen, its finance director, and Jonathan Russell, the head of its buyout team, are thought to be likely candidates.

Mr Larcombe is a non-executive director of Smith & Nephew and it is thought that he will be keen to take up other non-executive positions.

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