Private equity (PE) firm 3i has sold ferry business Scandlines to two infrastructure investors in a deal valued at €1.7 billion.

Scandlines operates two high-frequency ferry routes between Denmark and Germany with a fleet of eight ferries.

European pension investment funds First State Investments and Hermes Investment Management have acquired the ferry company, with First State buying just over 50% and Hermes 15%.

3i has retained a 35% stake in Scandlines after selling its share for €744 million but agreeing to reinvest at the same transaction value. The deal netted 3i €347 million.

The private equity firm bought a 40% stake in the then state-owned Scandlines in 2007, increased its stake to 50% in 2010 and acquired the remaining 50% in November 2013.

Peter Wirtz, 3i Germany partner, said: “Scandlines has been transformed from a state-owned business into an important infrastructure asset securing the central transport corridors between Germany and Denmark.”

3i owns a majority stake in UK luxury tour operator Audley Travel, acquired at the end of 2015.