NTMA publishes 2022 mid-year business update

Thursday 7th July 2022

The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) has today published its 2022 mid-year business update alongside its 2021 Annual Report.

Comments by Frank O’Connor, NTMA Chief Executive:

“Whilst the cost of servicing Ireland’s debt will increase from 2022 onwards, Ireland’s borrowing position remains strong with a significant cushion in place to mitigate the impact of higher borrowing rates.

− This arises from our multi-year programme of prefunding and locking in the benefits of unprecedented low interest rates for the long term, giving us more than €30bn in cash and a long average maturity of 10.7 years, one of the longest in Europe.

− We also benefit from ongoing robust investor demand for our debt and a positive trend in ratings actions, which is evident from three major ratings agency upgrades in the first half of 2022.

− Today we are also reporting a strong return of 10.7pc from ISIF’s investments in 2021 as we continue to increase Irish investments in line with its mandate. While global equities markets have experienced significant volatility in 2022, ISIF mitigates this risk through its diversified portfolio.

− ISIF’s updated investment strategy, announced last month, sets out ambitious targets for investments in Ireland targeting climate action, financing the delivery of new homes, promoting our food and agriculture sector, scaling up indigenous businesses, and harnessing the economic potential of regional cities.

− 2021 also saw the NDFA drive significant volumes of new homes through social housing PPPs, which have evolved from a pilot phase to a fully-fledged housing delivery programme. The NDFA also completed work on delivering two new academic buildings at the new Technological University of Dublin campus at Grangegorman during the year, which will benefit many thousands of students and the locality for generations to come.

-NewERA continued to secure additional advisory mandates from Government Ministers and Departments that benefit from its financial advisory expertise, with 11 commercial State bodies designated during 2021 bringing the total number of designated commercial State bodies to 18. NewERA advised on 163 assignments in 2021, up from 144 in 2020.

− The State Claims Agency (SCA) resolved 4,100 claims across its general and clinical claims portfolios in 2021. It also continued to support State authorities on the management of litigation risks – with COVID-19 related work remaining a significant element of the SCA’s risk and indemnity advisory activities through the year.

− Throughout the NTMA we have incorporated the immense climate challenge faced by our society into the way we carry out our mandates. The Agency has a unique role in driving a wide range of aligned climate-related initiatives – through issuing sovereign green bonds to support climate-related investment; through ISIF investments promoting reductions in carbon emissions; through NewERA coordinating climate action across its portfolio bodies; and through the NDFA’s procurement of major infrastructure projects in a sustainable way.”

Comments by the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe TD:

“I want to acknowledge the value to the State of the work performed across the NTMA during 2021. The Agency has played a decisive role in engaging with stakeholders, communicating the strength of the State’s financial position to market counterparties, and ensuring that the State’s borrowing requirements are met.

I am particularly pleased that the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) has recently set out an ambitious new strategy approved by myself and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to deploy capital effectively across a range of priority investment themes, delivering a strong economic impact and a commercial return.

I acknowledge the complex, skilled work that takes place in the State Claims Agency to mitigate risk and manage the exposure of the State to litigation; in NewERA to enhance the financial performance and the governance of State entities; and in the National Development Finance Agency to procure and execute major infrastructure projects.

I also want to wish Frank O’Connor and his team well as he commences his term as NTMA CEO.”

2022 mid-year business update and 2021 annual report – key points

Funding and Debt Management

  • With almost 60pc of this year’s funding completed before the recent move in interest rates, we expect that the average rate on Ireland’s debt will remain close to the recent low of 1.5pc this year, and that the interest bill for 2022 will remain at a similar level to 2021.
  • Our prefunding means that we have more than €30bn in cash at the half year, which reduces the requirement for borrowing at higher rates in the coming years.
  • The long average life of the medium/long-term debt portfolio (10.7 years) also means that our refinancing requirements are relatively limited in the years ahead, reducing refinancing risk in a period when markets now anticipate significant interest rate increases by central banks.
  • On average only 4pc-7pc of Ireland’s debt stock falls due for refinancing each year over the next decade.
  • The average yield on bond issuance during 2021 was 0.18pc at a weighted average maturity of 14.4 years, compared with 0.21pc and a weighted average maturity of 11.5 years in 2020.
  • So far in 2022 the NTMA has issued €5.75bn in benchmark bonds at a weighted average yield of 0.76pc and a weighted average maturity of 13 years, representing almost 60pc of the lower bound of the 2022 target range of €10bn-€14bn.

Ireland Strategic Investment Fund

  • Total annual return of 10.7pc in 2021, representing annual investment gains of over €900m.
  • ISIF has generated just under €2.7bn of value added between inception and end 2021.
  • ISIF made 25 investments totalling €670m in 2021, bringing total ISIF commitments to €5.6bn across 166 investments and €9.4bn of co-investment commitments since inception, a co-investment multiple of 1.7 times.
  • So far in 2022, ISIF has approved a further €477m in investments as the economy continues to shift from stabilisation to recovery.

National Development Finance Agency

  • Completed landmark delivery of the final phase of the Technological University Dublin at Grangegorman PPP project. Together the two Quads in this project have capacity for 10,000 students and 700 staff.
  • Completed social housing PPP pilot bundles 1 and 2, totalling 1,000 homes and laying a strong foundation for significant additional social housing delivery.
  • Bundle 3 is in progress and Bundles 4 and 5, which were recently announced by the Department of Housing, together have the capacity to deliver up to 2,000 homes.
  • Procuring a new programme of Exchequer funded schools on behalf of the Department of Education. The programme comprises 37 schools which will provide in excess of 24,000 school places across six bundles.

NewERA

  • Remit further extended with 18 commercial State bodies now designated (up from 7 in 2020) with advice provided on 163 assignments (up from 144 in 2020).
  • Continued to assist Government Ministers and Departments in assessing and monitoring the financial implications of COVID-19 for the commercial State bodies within NewERA’s remit.
  • Focus on climate action and aligning efforts across commercial State bodies to contribute to Government’s Climate Action Plan and Net Zero targets.

State Claims Agency

  • Managing a portfolio of over 11,400 active claims across its general and clinical claims portfolios. The SCA resolved 4,100 claims in 2021. Excluding mass actions, the ratio of claims resolved to claims received was 1.03.
  • Resolved 59pc of claims without court proceedings being served.
  • The SCA continued to pursue mediation as an alternative to the formal court process through 2021, particularly with regard to complex clinical claims. 37pc of claims concluded by the clinical claims team in 2021 where damages were paid involved a mediation process.
  • Legal Costs Unit settled over 1,000 claims for legal cost incurred by third parties, achieving a 40pc reduction on the amounts initially claimed.
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