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Europe's business confidence continues to climb, shows 3i European Enterprise Barometer

The latest quarterly 3i European Enterprise Barometer Index, measuring private companies' confidence in business, political and economic climates has risen a further 15 points since last quarter.

The weighted index for Europe is now at +38 (up from +23), the highest it has been since its peak of +49 in 2000. 3i backed companies remain optimistic about their own prospects.

The Index has risen in all countries apart from Italy. The sharpest level of increase is in France and Germany, where the Index is at its highest in four and five years respectively (up 17 points to +34 in France and up 43 points to +95 in Germany). In the Nordic countries, the Index remains the most positive out of all countries polled (+110) and the most consistent over all over the last two years. Elsewhere in Spain and the UK, the Index is up but still relatively low in optimism compared with the rest of Europe.

Philip Yea, 3i CEO commented: "The improved optimism in France and Germany is encouraging and it is good to see that our investee companies across Europe remain positive about the future".

The 3i Barometer has been a good lead indicator for GDP growth across Europe since it began in the UK in 1988 and then spread to the rest of Europe in 1998 (see chart 4, page 3).  This seems to be a trend that is continuing.

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Notes to editors

3i Enterprise Barometer

The 3i UK Enterprise Barometer is compiled every quarter from the responses of a sample of companies in the UK in which 3i has an investment. This survey was carried out in January 2005. The sample size was 359.  The initial base of +100 was established in January 1988.  The Index reached its highest level of +142 in the first quarter of 1994 and its lowest level of -170 in the first quarter of 1991.  

The 3i European Barometer was started in June 1998 and is compiled every quarter from the responses of a sample of companies in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Nordic Region in which 3i has an investment. The index uses the same base as the UK Barometer and it is weighted by size of country (as measured by GDP).

About 3i Group plc

3i is a world leader in private equity and venture capital. We focus on Buyouts, Growth Capital and Venture Capital and invest across Europe, in the United States and in Asia Pacific.  Our competitive advantage comes from our international network and the strength and breadth of our relationships in business. These underpin the value that we deliver to our portfolio and to our shareholders.

In the 6 months to 30 September 2004, 3i invested £521 million, including co-investment funds. 3i''s buyout business concentrates on the mid and smaller buyout markets in Europe and Asia Pacific and invested £305m in the 6 months to 30 September 2004.  Our growth capital business invested £142 million in the 6 months to 30 September 2004 in high growth companies expanding organically or through acquisition. 3i''s venture capital business invested £74m in the 6 months to 30 September 2004 in early stage technology companies.

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