Irish assets dwindle as Chuck Feeney’s fund nears end

The assets of the Irish arm of Chuck Feeney’s Atlantic Philanthropies have been whittled down to €293,650 as the fund prepares to wind down by year-end.

Mr Feeney, an Irish-American businessman and philanthropist, established Atlantic Philanthropies in 1982 after making his fortune as co-founder of the Duty Free Shoppers Group.

Since 1990 when its Irish office was first opened, Mr Feeney’s philanthropic fund has invested more than €1bn in the Republic, largely in educational projects.

The fund is closing its operations soon however, and will make its final grant by the end of 2016.

New accounts filed to the Companies Registration Office by Atlantic Philanthropies (Ireland) Limited show that the fund’s assets have diminished as it prepares to cease operations.

The company’s financial results to the end of December 2015 show its total net assets stood at €293,650.

The Irish company held assets worth €1.32m at the end of 2014.

Among Atlantic Philanthropies (Ireland) Ltd’s remaining assets at the end of last year were €226,845 in cash; €1.9m owed to it by debtors and tangible assets of €251,488.

The company owed €517,795 to its creditors at the end of last year.

A loss of €1.03m is recorded in the accounts compared to a profit of €243,590 at the end of 2014.

Revenue for the year — derived from its advisory services — fell to €1.57m from €3.5m while its operating expenses fell by more than €650,000 to €2.6m.

The trustees’ report confirms that its financial accounts have not been prepared on a going concern basis as it intends to “terminate its activities” by December 31, 2016.

Eighty-five year old Mr Feeney has previously signalled his intention to bring his philanthropic organisation to an end by 2020 with its final grant being made by December 2016.

The fund still operates from its bases in Bermuda, Ireland and the US while its offices in Northern Ireland, South Africa, Vietnam and Australia have closed.

By the time its operations across the world come to an end, Atlantic Philanthropies will have divested close to $8bn.

A recent update on its Irish interests from chief executive Christopher G Oechsli highlighted the near $2bn invested in the island of Ireland since 1990 including $21m in “advocating for and securing human rights in Northern Ireland”.

Its final Irish grants have focussed on ensuring “the sustainability of key grantee organisations that will hold government accountable for providing services and meeting its commitments”.

The biggest beneficiary of Mr Feeney’s wealth has been the University of Limerick in which the businessman has invested close to $180m across a range of fields including research, medical and scientific innovation, athletics and student residences.

Its funding also helped build many of the university’s buildings including the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance to which it donated €11.8m, University Arena (€8m) and Glucksman Library (€5.1m).

Far from being the only Irish university beneficiary, the fund has also invested in NUIG (€39.7m); UCC (€79.1m); DCU (€112.8m); Trinity College Dublin (€80.6m); UCD (€31.4m); NUI Maynooth (€29.3m); and Queen’s University Belfast (€116.8m).


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