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Sunday 17 November 2019

Just quarter of State's €335m Aer Lingus stake sale invested by fund

Aer Lingus stock picture
Aer Lingus stock picture
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Just €93m of the €335m windfall received by the State three years ago from the sale of its 25.1pc stake in Aer Lingus has been committed to investments by the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) that manages the money.

And more than a third of the money committed was invested in a bond issued by the DAA, which operates Dublin and Cork airports.

The sale of Aer Lingus in 2015 to British Airways owner IAG saw the Government establish a so-called 'Connectivity Fund', that operates as a sub-fund of the State-owned ISIF.

The fund is intended to support a diverse range of commercial projects.

A year after receiving the proceeds from the Aer Lingus sale, none of the money had been invested.

By April last year, just two investments had been completed by the Connectivity Fund.

They represented a total investment of €57m by the fund. But those two investments included a €35m investment in a bond that was issued by the DAA.

The Government said at the time that this investment was "considered suited to inclusion under the Connectivity Fund".

The other investment completed by last April was a €22m injection into a company called Aqua Comms. It operates a number of sub-sea fibre optic cables, including one linking Dublin, London and New York.

In response to a parliamentary question last week from Fianna Fáil TD Darragh O'Brien, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe confirmed that just four investments had been made in the past three years by the Connectivity Fund.

ISIF said its total funds value hit €8.7bn at the end of 2017, compared to €7.2bn when it was established at the end of 2014. Aside from its investments under the Connectivity Fund, ISIF has invested in housing construction and student accommodation projects, renewable energy schemes, and lending to small and medium-sized businesses.

Irish Independent

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