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

Click to follow
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.