Ireland’s wealth fund gains 6.2% in 2020

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Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, Dublin, returned 6.2% in 2020, thanks to portfolio resilience to market volatility driven by the coronavirus pandemic.

The large majority of the performance came from less than 20% of the portfolio, the wealth fund said in a presentation accompanying its annual update. Further information on which assets drove investment gains was not available.

The fund had €8.6 billion ($10.6 billion) in assets as of Dec. 31. The return was equivalent to €500 million in investment gains for the year despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Irish sovereign wealth fund’s 2020 annual update. The fund had €8.1 billion in assets as of Dec. 31, 2019, and generated an investment return of 5.2%, according to the 2019 update.

The fund gained an annualized 3.1% per year since January 2015, adding over €1.5 billion in investment gains, the update said.

In 2020, the fund committed €430 million to investments in Ireland, bringing its total Ireland-focused portfolio to €5 billion.

The fund also established a €2 billion Pandemic Stabilization and Recovery Fund in May as part of a package by Ireland’s government to support and invest in the recovery of businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19.

Direct and indirect investments in pandemic-impacted businesses, including investments in the airline industry, accounted for 90% of ISIF’s investments in 2020.

“During 2020, ISIF continued to support economic activity and employment in Ireland despite the challenges of a global pandemic. In fact, since the government’s decision to establish the Pandemic Stabilization and Recovery Fund, over 90% of ISIF’s commitments have backed businesses directly impacted by COVID-19. This has made the fund an important component in the government’s support measures for Irish businesses,” Paschal Donohoe, Ireland’s minister for finance, said in a news release.

Conor O’Kelly, CEO of Ireland’s National Treasury Management Agency, which manages the fund, said in the release: “The new Pandemic Stabilization and Recovery Fund is a valuable and effective part of the government’s unprecedented counter-cyclical response to the COVID crisis.”

A spokesman said additional details on the 2020 performance will be published later this year.

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