The Government has increased the value of its 99.8% stake in AIB from €11.6bn at the end of 2013 to €13.3bn at the end of last year, according to the NTMA’s annual statement.
The Government’s shares in AIB are held by the National Pension Reserve Fund, which falls under the remit of the NTMA. The Government will announce the advisory team for the part sale of AIB over the next few days.
The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) will prioritise coming up with an investment strategy to underpin economic growth and employment, according to the new head of the NTMA, Conor O’Kelly. The ISIF was formally ratified on December 22 and is now responsible for investing the assets of the National Pension Reserve Fund. This includes initial investment commitments in Ireland of €1.4bn in the areas of infrastructure, venture capital, and long-term finance for SMEs.
Commenting on the agency’s performance in 2014, Mr O’Kelly welcomed the NTMA (Amendment) Act, permitting all the bodies under the control of the NTMA to fall under the remit of a single board structure. The NTMA has responsibility for Nama, ISIF, NewERA and the State Claims Agency. On Wednesday, the NTMA raised €4bn through a seven-year bond at a record low yield of 0.867%.
“Last year saw the NTMA, under the leadership of John Corrigan, make a full return to the bond markets with regular auctions and the issue of two new long-term benchmark bonds. Ireland’s position was further improved with the early repayment in December of €9bn of its IMF loan facility using cheaper, long-term market funding,” said Mr O’Kelly.
Last October, Finance Minister Michael Noonan successfully negotiated the early repayment of €18.5bn of IMF bailout loans carrying an average interest rate of 5%. Irish sovereign debt is now trading at record lows and ended 2014 at 1.23% compared with 3.54% at the start of the year.
According to the year-end statement, the NTMA held exchequer cash and short-term investment balances of €11.1bn, down from €18.5bn at the end of 2013. Debt service costs were €8.2bn last year.
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