Wednesday 22 November 2017

Ireland holds multi-millon stake in tech giant Apple

Apple has a firm based in Cork. Photo: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
Apple has a firm based in Cork. Photo: Philip Toscano/PA Wire
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

The State held a stake in technology giant Apple at the end of last year worth just over €5m.

As the Government awaits a decision from the European Commission over the company's Irish tax affairs, it has emerged that the State held more than 54,000 shares in the California-based company,

Those shares were held through the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF).

At the end of last year, that shareholding had a market value of €5.26m.

A spokesman for the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), under which the ISIF operates, could not comment on whether the holding has been increased or reduced since then.

If it has been retained as at the end of last year, it is now worth fractionally less, at around €5m.

The Apple stake is just one of hundreds of investments in dozens of countries around the world held by the ISIF, the successor to the National Pension Reserve Fund.

The investments are in countries as diverse as Columbia, Israel, Russia, Liberia and Turkey.

According to a list of ISIF's investments in publicly quoted equities as of the end of 2015, the largest valued stake outside of Ireland in a single company was the €18m holding in the National Grid in the UK.

Other large-scale investments include a €14m holding in an operator of wireless and broadcast communications infrastructure, American Tower, as well as a €9.8m stake in pharmaceutical company Bayer, a €7.6m stake in Allianz and a €9.3m shareholding in brewing company Anheuser-Busch.

It also had a €2m stake in social media giant Facebook.

In Ireland, ISIF's biggest investment to date has been its €50m punt on Malin Corporation.

According to data from Bloomberg, that investment is now worth just over €70m.

Other investments include FBD Insurance, Irish Continental Group, Paddy Power Betfair, National Toll Roads, Ryanair, Smurfit Kappa and Medtronic.

At the end of last year, the ISIF overall portfolio was valued at €7.9bn. Last year it had committed €758m to various transactions across a wide range of sectors.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan now expects the decision from the European Commission on Apple's tax dealings in the autumn.

The EU opened the Apple probe in 2014, and, in preliminary findings, said its tax arrangements were improperly designed to give the company a financial boost in exchange for jobs in Ireland.

The Government has said it will "vigorously defend'' any adverse Apple tax decision.

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