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Irish reserve fund suffers losses from bank shares, boosts corporate bonds

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  • The Dáil, Ireland's Parliament, in Dublin

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Ireland’s National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF) has seen its overall value fall over the course of the second quarter after the share price for one of its two major bank holdings declined.

The sovereign fund, which will soon see its assets transferred to the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), said overall portfolio performance for the three months to 30 June was -0.6%, despite the discretionary portfolio returning 2%.

However, it incurred losses from the directed portfolio, comprising holdings in Allied Irish Banks (AIB) and Bank of Ireland, after AIB’s ordinary shares fell to €0.01252 by the end of the quarter.

The 1.9% investment loss saw the directed portfolio valued just €13.1bn at the end of June, down from €13.3bn at the end of March and stable with its value at the end of 2013.

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The portfolio update also showed the NPRF Commission had increased the fund’s exposure to euro-zone corporate bonds, seemingly diverting some of its €2.7bn in cash holdings at the end of March to the corporate bond portfolio.

While cash holdings fell by €302m over the course of the month, the corporate portfolio increased to account for more than 18% of the €7bn discretionary portfolio, up from 12.6% three months prior.  

There had otherwise been little material change to the fund’s holdings – the most significant outside of the boost to corporate debt a reduction in equity put options from €50m to just €18m.

The Irish Parliament is currently debating legislation that would allow for the transfer of the €20.1bn NPRF’s assets to the proposed ISIF, billed as a sovereign development fund meant to boost growth and employment in the country.

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