Sunday 20 April 2014

Noonan hopes for improved credit rating as Ireland is in 'a good place'

Finance Minister Michael Noonan
Finance Minister Michael Noonan

FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan has said he hopes ratings giant Moody’s will upgrade Ireland in the New Year.

Moody's is the only major agency that still classes Irish Government debt as risky – so called 'junk' investment. That hurts our ability to borrow on the markets.

The minister told Bloomberg Television that Moody’s problem lies with the Eurozone and not Ireland specifically.

“We’re hopeful that Moody’s will have another look at us early in the New Year,” Mr Noonan said.

“The mood from all the rating agencies is positive at present.”

The Irish Independent reported earlier this week that Moody’s looks set to upgrade the country's credit rating to the much sought-after "investment grade" status.

An upgrade would be a major boost for the country as we exit the EU/IMF bailout.

Mr Noonan is at the end of a two-day trip to the UK, which also included a meeting with Bank of England governor Mark Carney and an National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) investor lunch.

He also held talks with the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

The EBRD provides project financing for banks, industries, and businesses as well as new ventures and existing companies.

Direct investments generally range from €5m to €230m, through loan and equity finance, guarantees, leasing facilities and trade finance.

Mr Noonan is a governor of the Bank and Sean Donlon is the Ireland director.

The minister told Bloomberg that Ireland will beat its targets this year and that it has a cash buffer of €20bn.

“We’re in a good place,” he said in a speech after the interview.

“We decided to exit the bailout and do it cleanly without any precautionary programmes or any dedicated credit lines.

“We’re not jumping out of the plane without a parachute. We have cash buffers in excess of €20bn. That funds us up to the second quarter of 2015 if we never entered the market.”

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