Foreign banks very keen on investing here -- Bruton
IFSC TZAR John Bruton (right) said last night that international banks were "definitely" interested in investing in the Irish banking system and exploring the "opportunities" that might come from the current crisis.
The former Taoiseach has had extensive contact with the international financial community since he became chairman of IFSC Ireland in September.
He was in London yesterday telling an international insurance gathering that "now is the time" to invest in Ireland.
Asked about the prospect of foreign investment in Ireland's banking system, a development favoured by Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan, Mr Bruton said he had "definitely" picked up an "interest".
"People are very interested internationally in what's going to happen and what opportunities are going to exist," he said. "All I can tell you is that there's interest; exactly what form [of investment] that interest will take I don't know."
Mr Bruton admitted Ireland had taken a "reputational hit" over the past two years, but he insisted international financial companies remained receptive to setting up hubs here.
"There are numerous firms with very substantial portfolios coming into Ireland as we speak," he said. "What the IMF is doing is having the indirect effect of making Ireland more competitive because it's forcing us to deal with cost factors we should have dealt with years ago."
He also gave the four-year budgetary plan the thumbs up. "I think the Budget will pass, but even if it doesn't there's broad acceptance that we need to do something within these parameters."
Mr Bruton said he had no plans to return to the political sphere himself and said he had "no ambitions at all" in the direction of the presidency.
"My role is the one I'm performing now, working in a non-political role but hopefully bringing some of the experience and contacts I have to bear into bringing jobs and investment to Ireland," he added.
His upbeat assessment of the prospects for international investment in Ireland's financial hub was echoed by Sarah Goddard who heads up the Dublin International Insurance & Management Association.
Several insurance and reinsurance executives who have hubs in Ireland also testified to the benefits of locating here, while IBEC boss Danny McCoy told the conference that Irish economy was about "much more than the banks and the Government".