European Investment Bank’s Irish funding up 35% last year

Higher level of investment in infrastructural ‘projects reflected the accelerated pace of economic activity’

Thu, Feb 20, 2014, 01:00



Ireland received almost €680 million from the European Investment Bank last year, a 35 per cent increase on 2012.

The European Investment Bank’s vice-president Jonathan Taylor said the higher level of investment in infrastructural projects reflected the accelerated pace of economic activity and appetite for investment in Ireland, as the country prepared to exit its rescue programme.

Vodafone was the largest recipient of funding, receiving a €117 million investment for the development of high- speed communications in rural areas. ESB and Bord Gáis received €100 million and €90 million respectively, the latter accepting an investment for the construction of onshore wind farms, a contentious issue in some parts of the country.

A €100 million capital investment in 49 schools across the Republic, a €100 million contribution to the University of Limerick’s capital development plan, and an upgrade of road networks were among last year’s investments.


Lending initiative
In addition, the bank helped finance a €200 million lending initiative with AIB designed to encourage lending to small businesses, following a similar programme in 2011.

Speaking following a press conference in Brussels yesterday to mark the publication of the 2013 annual report, Mr Taylor indicated that there were a number of projects in the pipeline for Ireland in the coming months.

“The Luas and N17 road projects are expected to be signed shortly. We have seen a significant interest from outside investors, as international investors re-engage with Ireland,” he said.

Owned by the 28 EU member states, the European Investment Bank is an institution of the European Union. The bank borrows from international capital markets and lends to investment projects in member states and non-EU countries at a low interest rate, providing long-term financing for infrastructure-type projects.

The Luxembourg-based bank, which has a triple-A rating, had total assets of €512 billion at the end of 2013.


Investment possibilities
Executives of the bank are expected to visit Dublin in early March when a number of new investments will be announced. An update on a planned €110 million investment in the first phase of construction of the new Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) campus is expected. Mr Taylor said the EIB is also in talks with a number of universities about investment possibilities. It is also keen to explore large-scale private sector investment possibilities, he said, such as corporate research.

The 35 per cent increase in Ireland’s funding from the bank last year brings the bank’s total investment in Ireland since 2009 to €2.9 billion.

The bank, which also finances a number of projects in non-EU states, yesterday confirmed it was freezing all investment activity in Ukraine in light of the escalation in violence in the capital Kiev. The bank has invested in infrastructural projects in the country, including the modernisation of air traffic control facilities, the extension of a metro line, and lending arrangements for small firms.

“For the time being the situation is so cruel that it would be politically the wrong signal, but also irresponsible [. . .] to be active on business in Ukraine,” the EIB’s president Werner Hoyer said.