View from City Road: 3i puts on-off saga back on the stage

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The Independent Online
Perhaps leaking the flotation to the Financial Times was the only way 3i could get anybody interested in writing about it again, after the longest-running on-and- off saga of the past couple of years.

3i's clearing bank shareholders abandoned the flotation indefinitely last May - and lost a chairman in the process - because they did not think they would get full value for the company, which is being launched into the world as an investment trust.

With trust discounts sharply lower than a year ago, they have changed their minds. But with the clearers being instinctive herd followers rather than leaders, does this mean a stock market sell-off by the summer, and a sharp widening of discounts again?

If that happens, 3i will be joining the club of contra-indicators. This week's other new member is Merrill Lynch, which abandoned gilts market-making a few years ago and is now climbing back on board, in the month the froth went off the business after a two-year boom.

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