State must wait for €335m from IAG for Aer Lingus stake

It could be years before any of the €335m the State received from IAG for its stake in Aer Lingus is put to use in improving the country’s connectivity, it has emerged.
State must wait for €335m from IAG for Aer Lingus stake

The State landed the multi-million euro windfall after the contentious takeover of the former national carrier was completed in August.

The proceeds of the sale, contained within a new connectivity fund, have been earmarked for investment projects that will enhance connectivity to and from, as well as within, the State.

The head of the Irish Strategic Investment Fund, which controls the connectivity fund, has warned that there is a “limited quantum of deals potentially available” and that it could be some time before any investments are made with the State’s proceeds, however.

Director Eugene O’Callaghan said as any potential deals are likely to be “infrastructure-type investments” it is more likely that the funds would be committed in the medium to long-term.

Funds from the sale were only received by the investment fund in the last few weeks, he said.

Mr O’Callaghan was speaking as the investment fund provided an update on its investment progress which shows that it has committed €2bn of the €6.8bn fund to date.

The fund which was set up by the Government with a dual mandate of supporting economic activity and delivering a commercial return, and which replaced the National Pensions Reserve Fund, invested €613m between February and November.

Mr O’Callaghan said he was pleased with the pace of investment despite it being at the lower end of its €500m to €1bn target range.

The investment fund also has a pipeline of six further investments worth about €220m which it hopes to close in the coming weeks and is actively working on 44 further proposals with a combined value of €1.4bn.

If there were a few more weeks in the year, the total invested by the fund this year could have been more than €800m, Mr O’Callaghan said.

The fund has been heavily criticised in the past for the number of investments it has made given that €1.22bn had been earmarked by the National Pensions Reserve Fund before the fund was launched in May.

The Investment Fund’s biggest investment to date is the €325m it has committed to a €500m joint-venture — named Activate Capital — with KKR Credit which is aimed at building 11,000 houses.

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