The proceeds of the sale of the state's shareholding in Aer Lingus have been used to establish the Connectivity Fund, which is managed by the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF). The Connectivity Fund is being invested on a commercial basis as a sub-portfolio of the ISIF, and consistent with the overall ISIF double bottom line mandate, i.e. investing for both commercial return and economic impact.
The ISIF has advised me that it has completed four investments under the Connectivity Fund, namely:
- A $28 million co-investment in Aqua Comms DAC, a company that has developed fibre optic cables linking the USA, Ireland (Killala, Mayo) and the UK.
- A €35 million investment as a strategic domestic partner for daa plc long-term bond issuance, supporting construction of a new runway at Dublin Airport.
- Provision of a long-term €14 million debt facility to finance a runway resurfacing project at Shannon Airport - a crucial regional and national infrastructure asset. This debt facility was signed in early 2017 and the runway resurfacing project has been completed on time and within budget.
- An €18 million Junior Debt facility to support the relocation of the Port of Cork from Tivoli to Ringaskiddy. The ISIF debt facility was provided alongside senior debt from Allied Irish Banks and the European Investment Bank and was structured to ensure certainty of funding for the Port Company. It also has tailored flexibility to meet the requirements of this nationally and regionally significant project.
These investments bring the total deployed under the Connectivity Fund to over €90 million. ISIF has informed me that there are a range of further pipeline connectivity-based investments on which it is currently working.
ISIF’s refocused strategy targets five priority themes, one of which is investment to support regional development. As such, the ISIF has advised that the Connectivity Fund will henceforth be focused on commercial investments that support improved regional connectivity.