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Government creates NewERA fund to oversee management of semi-states

A new fund will be created, under the authority of the NTMA, to oversee the state’s ownership of semi-state companies.

THE GOVERNMENT has announced that it is to establish a Strategic Investment Fund, NewERA, which will oversee the management and potential sale of its stake in state assets, while also acting as a strategic investment fund.

The fund, announced this morning, will be created under the National Treasury Management Agency and will centralise the management of the public stake in a series of commercial semi-states.

“NewERA will carry out the corporate governance function, from a shareholder perspective, of ESB, Bord Gais, EirGrid, Bord na Móna and Coillte, reporting to the relevant Ministers,” finance minister Michael Noonan said.

Its operation will be overseen by the cabinet committee on economic infrastructure, a ten-man committee chaired by the Taoiseach, and it will also advise on the restructuring and sale of state assets.

NewERA will also work with the National Pension Reserve Fund to form proposals for the investment of state cash into the NewERA initiative, which had been a main plank of Fine Gael’s pre-election policy.

The move had been predicted in some of this morning’s newspapers, and had been confirmed in the Dáil this morning by Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, who said it was logical to take a “whole portfolio approach” to state companies, which he said had been adopted in other countries.

“There is no fire sale of state assets, and there will be no fire sale of state assets,” Gilmore told Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald.

“There are areas of the economy where there is huge potential… there is a requirement for additional investment, the potential for generation of employment, and where it make sense that the State harnesses the resources it has available,” the Tánaiste added.

NewEra will be directed by Dr Eileen Fitzpatrick, a director at the NTMA who was previously the chief executive of AIB Investment Managers.

The announcement comes as the government prepares for a fresh round of talks with the EU and IMF, who are due to visit next month, about the sale of state assets demanded by the bailout deal.

Ireland is required to raise €2bn through the sale of state assets and the privatisation of semi-states, but it is believed that the IMF is keen to increase this amount.

The government is understood to be willing to increase the sale of the assets if it can assured that it will be permitted to keep the proceeds for reinvestment, rather than for servicing Ireland’s debts.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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