Wednesday 25 April 2018

Strategic fund may agree investment of €2.5bn by end of year

Eugene O'Callaghan
Eugene O'Callaghan
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

THE Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) is expected to commit up to €1bn to additional investments this year. That would bring the investment commitment by the fund to as much as €2.5bn by the end of the year.

The Government announced two years ago that money in the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) was being transferred to a new state-backed investment fund.

The funds were expected to be ploughed into projects such as road building, water infrastructure and school building.

But the economic recovery means that the Fund's involvement in some projects is no longer required.

Eugene O'Callaghan, ISIF director, said one of those areas is elements of the public-private partnership programme.

"The most recent PPP project, we understand, gathered about 40 Irish and international banks willing to provide the funding ," Mr O'Callaghan said.

"The international financial money has come back."

He was speaking on the margins of ISIF's second market engagement event in Dublin's Convention Centre, attended by more than 500 entrepreneurs, investors and advisors.

Mr O'Callaghan said the Fund's investment portfolio totals about €7.4bn, but if co-investment from the private sector is included, there is a potential for up to €17bn.

The Fund is evaluating around 100 investment proposals throughout the country.

The investment fund is also looking at potentially filling the investment gap in construction, in order to boost residential development in particular.

The Fund could potentially either look at setting up a particular fund for developers to dip into, or potentially supporting specific developers, Mr O'Callagahn said.

Mr O'Callaghan said the Fund hopes, by the end of June, to publish an initial baseline economic impact across its portfolio for last year.

Mr O'Callaghan said the Fund's pipeline spans a number of sectors, with particularity strong levels of interest from potential investee companies in the food, energy, infrastructure, technology, real estate and SME sectors.

"The ISIF is now firmly up and running and we want prospective partners to share their plans with us to enable us to deliver a positive economic impact and achieve our investment objectives," he said.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan addressed the investor event and said the Fund can provide capital for existing companies to grow and new innovative companies to be formed.

"The ISIF is already investing. In 2014, in advance of the ISIF, the NPRF committed to a number of investments in Ireland including infrastructure, water and long-term financing for SMEs."

The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) has also announced the membership of the committee that will oversee ISIF's investment strategy.

Members include former Google Ireland managing director John Herlihy and Enterprise Ireland chief Julie Sinnamon, among others.

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