British private equity firm 3i Group Plc reported a profit and a rise in net asset value for the first half, and it lifted its interim dividend by 20 percent to 1.2 pence.

For the half year ended Sept. 30, the group posted a pretax profit of 54 million pounds versus a loss of 57 million pounds in the year-ago period.

Net asset value rose to 3.16 billion pounds ($5.1 billion) from 2.75 billion pounds.

"We have transformed the balance sheet, reorganised the business and have moved from organising and planning for growth to starting to deliver it. There is increased momentum throughout the business," chief executive Michael Queen said.

In Europe and the US, domestic demand has remained subdued. However, India, China and South East Asia, the most important markets for 3i in Asia, have shown strong growth, the group said.

In terms of investment activity, investment increased to 327 million pounds from 190 million, while realisations fell to 293 million pounds from 507 million.

Total assets under management fell to 9.30 billion pounds as at September 30 from 9.67 billion pounds at March 31 due to a strong sterling against the euro and the US dollar as well as the impact of realisations.

3i is focused on buyouts, growth capital and infrastructure, investing in Europe, Asia and North America. The company actively invests in sectors such as Industrials & Energy, TMT, Business and Financial Services, Healthcare and Consumer.

Shares of 3i are trading 0.58 percent lower at 323 pence at 08:38 am BST Thursday on the London Stock Exchange.