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Biggest threats now come from abroad, says NTMA chief

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NTMA chief executive John Corrigan

NTMA chief executive John Corrigan

NTMA chief executive John Corrigan

The biggest threats to Ireland now come from abroad, National Treasury Management Agency boss John Corrigan said yesterday.

"I see the bigger threats coming from external factors – the withdrawal gradually over time of the monetary stimulus, particularly in the US and whether that can be handled in an accident-free manner," Mr Corrigan said. "The scope for accidents is clearly high." He added that investors in the Middle East and Asia are increasingly interested in buying Irish bonds as the NTMA prepares to outline a series of auctions to raise funds for 2015Irish bonds got a boost last month when Moody's restored its investment grade credit rating.

The Government has already met its funding needs for 2014 and is aiming to raise €8bn this year, nearly half which it has already garnered from January's bond, NTMA debt agency head John Corrigan said. The NTMA will outline a schedule of auctions in the next week or so.

"Encouragingly we are seeing funds in the Middle East and Far East coming back into the market, which was our expectation as soon as we were restored to investment grade by all three rating agencies," Corrigan told Reuters. "That is actually happening."

Mr Corrigan said already foreign investors were snapping up about 80pc of debt on offer and Ireland's raising of debt this year would be very modest.

"If you have a requirement of about €4bn and the minimum size of an auction is about half a billion, that leaves you at most with capacity for eight auctions or possibly less, depending on the size of the auctions," he said.

Given the strong demand for Irish bonds, which trades at about a 3.3pc yield for 10 years versus 15pc at the peak of the debt crisis in 2011, the NTMA has also looked at the issuing bonds with a longer maturity.

"What we got from our own contacts with the market and from the primary dealers was that while there would be reasonably good demand in the 20-year area, that the 10-year was an area where we could make a really big statement, where there was really huge demand," Corrigan said.

"I think it was important that we did that in the context of our exit," he said. (Reuters)

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