Heavy hitter Hasenstab backs Ireland's bid for upgrade by Moody's
Moody's will make decision later this week
ONE of the world's largest investment groups has thrown its weight behind Ireland's campaign for a ratings upgrade days before Moody's reconsiders the matter
"Absolutely we think Ireland deserves to be investment grade -- that's no question," said Michael Hasenstab, head of fixed income at US giant Franklin Templeton, in an interview with 'The Sunday Business Post'.
Moody's will announce its latest decision on Ireland's credit rating later this week. It is the only major ratings agency to still class the country at sub-investment grade or "junk" status. This deters many large institutional investors, particularly those from Asia and the Middle East, from buying into the country.
Under 40-year-old Mr Hasenstab's oversight, Franklin Templeton has amassed about €10bn worth of Irish sovereign debt since it started buying aggressively in the middle of 2011.
"We do our own internal ratings of countries and, internally, we would put Ireland as an investment grade rated country," he said, adding "your guess is as good as mine" when asked why Moody's had not yet upgraded Ireland.
He is not the only US investor with a huge holding in Ireland and much to gain from a ratings upgrade. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the philanthropic organisation owned by US billionaire Bill Gates, has nearly $20m (€14.6m) worth of Irish bonds. Those have been a spectacular investment, returning close to 10pc over 2013.