2015 was a year of major change for the NTMA as our new integrated governance structure bedded down and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund commenced operations. It was also a year of strong achievement across our business mandates. We issued €13bn of bonds at low yields and a long average maturity, putting our debt burden on a more sustainable footing. In its first year the ISIF committed €759m to Irish investments and has developed an active pipeline of commercial investment opportunities that will support economic activity and employment. Through early 2016 we have worked on the development of a corporate strategy to ensure the NTMA continues to deliver long-term value for the State.
Willie Walsh | Chairperson
December 2014 saw significant changes in the NTMA’s governance structure as a new over-arching board structure with responsibility for the NTMA’s funding, investment, project finance and delivery, corporate finance and claims and risk management functions was put in place. One of the purposes of this simplified organisational structure was to facilitate a more integrated approach to the performance of the NTMA’s functions. I and my fellow board members have worked closely with the Chief Executive and management team over our first year to achieve this. The benefits have been reflected not only in our business mandates but also in our corporate functions which act as the NTMA’s operating engine and are essential to the successful execution of our mandates.
One of the first tasks for the new Board was the finalisation of the ISIF investment strategy, in consultation with the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, to implement its double bottom-line investment mandate of generating a commercial return and supporting economic activity and employment. The strategy takes account of the ISIF’s long-term perspective, flexibility and ability to leverage additional investment from global and Irish co-investment partners in order to target investments that achieve economic impact. We have also put in place rigorous assessment criteria for potential ISIF investments to ensure that they have a demonstrable economic impact and do not simply displace other investment that would have occurred in any event.
In the early months of 2016 we have been focusing on the development of the NTMA’s corporate strategy to complement and support our business mandates and their strategic business objectives. The unifying purpose across our varied mandates is to manage public assets and liabilities commercially and prudently. Our work on the corporate strategy is based on identifying the common goals critical to the fulfilment of this purpose and ensuring that these common goals inform everything we do. The strategy has now been finalised and, consistent with the NTMA’s new governance structure, will ensure that clear strategic direction and guidance is provided across the organisation.
The strategy commits the organisation to four strategic goals in support of its business mandates. The primary goal of the NTMA is to deliver long-term value to the State. Three supporting goals – maintaining and enhancing our reputation, developing our capabilities as an adaptive organisation, and enabling our people to reach their potential - will enable delivery of long-term value while building sustainable business performance. These goals will inform our objective setting as part of our annual planning process and will also provide focus and drive in positioning the NTMA for the future.
2015 marked the 25th anniversary of the NTMA’s establishment. In 1990 the NTMA started out as a small, specialist agency managing the National Debt. In the years since it has grown significantly as it has been asked by Government to perform a range of additional commercial market-facing functions on behalf of the State, The NTMA’s results-oriented, adaptable and flexible approach has been central to the successful delivery of its mandates in the past and forms one of our key strengths as we develop the organisation to meet the different challenges facing it over the coming years.
Establishing a new governance structure in a fully functioning organisation requires a major time commitment and I would like to thank my fellow Board and committee members for their work during 2015. I would also like to thank the management team and staff for their contribution to what was a very successful year. I look forward in 2016 to building on the strong progress we have made over the last 12 months and continuing to deliver on our business mandates to achieve long-term value for the State.