Business Irish

Saturday 23 August 2014

NTMA disputes Central Bank figures

Donal O'Donovan

Published 09/04/2013 | 05:00

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John Corrigan, CEO of the National Treasury Managment Agency

THE state agency responsible for managing the national debt has blasted Central Bank statistics on who actually holds the investments.

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It comes after a report in the Irish Independent highlighted the Central Bank numbers yesterday.

The Central Bank had published figures that showed a huge drop in the amount of government bonds held by Irish pension and insurance companies over the past 15 months.

According to the Central Bank data, insurance and pension funds here hold just €11m of Irish government bonds, down from €945m at the start of 2012.

The figures suggested that Irish investors were ditching the bonds just as the Government was trying to return to the markets.

Surprise

They were a surprise because the NTMA is known to have been encouraging pension managers to up their stake in the bonds, including by developing new style amortising bonds, that repay interest and capital and so can create a better income stream for investors in government debt.

But debt agency the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) yesterday said it thinks the Central Bank numbers are wrong.

"These figures do not reflect the true level of Irish government bonds held by domestic pension funds and insurance companies," the NTMA said in a statement yesterday.

"But they have highlighted the difficulties in gathering such data due to intermediaries acting on behalf of investors and long custodian chains which can obscure the identity of the ultimate holders," the agency said.

But the bank took down the data from its official website yesterday.

A spokesman for the CentralBank declined to comment on whether it now believes its bond data is incorrect, or to say if the figures had been withdrawn at the request of the NTMA.

Irish Independent

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