The $153 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund is setting aside at least $30 million from its newest private equity programme, the $100 million Emerging Europe Fund, to invest in Northern Ireland.
The new fund, which is being managed by Washington, DC-based PCG International, is preparing to make up to two investments in the next few weeks, according to a pension spokesman. The pension, which will examine further opportunities across a broad range of sectors, was attracted to the region due to its workforce and commitment by the government to foster economic activity.
“It’s a region that has quite a bit of human talent but the economy hasn’t really taken off and we believe that it’s poised to do that,” the spokesman said. “The way we are looking at this is to create opportunities for other investors, so that the money we invest is sort of partnered up with other investors to make the allocation actually larger and it gives us an opportunity to get into more investments.”
The groundwork for the investment prorgramme began when New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli visited an economic forum in Northern Ireland last May. The pension's announcement about the Northern Ireland initiative comes as Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuiness tour the US this week to meet with business leaders and President Barack Obama.
“In the face of this very difficult investment market, we have to pursue long-term investments that will position the fund for strong, long-range returns,” DiNapoli said in a statement.
A recent report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers predicted that Northern Ireland’s economy will shrink by 3 percent this year, but said it would be the region least affected by the current recession as its unemployment rate is well below the UK average of 6.3 percent.