New York pension funds reveal $150m investment plan for NI

NORTHERN IRELAND'S First Minister the Rev Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness have welcomed a decision by…

NORTHERN IRELAND'S First Minister the Rev Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness have welcomed a decision by four New York City pension funds to invest $150 million (€95 million) in infrastructure projects in the North.

Announcing the investment in New York yesterday, the city's comptroller, William Thompson, said the funds would invest in the Emerald Infrastructure Development Fund, a new company to be based in Belfast.

"Based on vigorous assessment by our investment consultants, we are confident that there is great potential for long-term investment success in the region due to an historical underinvestment in infrastructure," Mr Thompson said.

"We expect that other public and private investment funds will increasingly make Northern Ireland a major focus of their investment decision making. While our number one priority is a strong return on our investment, we are encouraged that these projects will promote sustainable development and equality of opportunity, and will help to improve the economic condition of those who have been disadvantaged by patterns of historic exclusion and by nearly 30 years of civil strife."

Dr Paisley, who has been in the US for much of this week to promote next month's investment conference in the North, praised the "vision and commitment" shown by the New York funds in putting together the package.

"Their decision to choose Northern Ireland as a place to do business makes this a truly great day for us and for this city. This investment confirms that Northern Ireland has turned a corner. We are now a sound investment location that can provide the right calibre of people and projects to successfully underpin further inward investment, particularly from the US," he said.

The four pension funds behind the investment are the New York City Employees Retirement System, the Teacher Retirement System for the City of New York, the New York City Police Pension Fund, and the New York City Fire Department Fund.

"It's the ordinary people of the United States investing in the ordinary people of the North," Mr McGuinness said.

The announcement marks the largest public investment from the US in Northern Ireland and the $150 million injection will target projects in the alternative energy, waste management, property development and conventional energy sectors. No specific projects have yet been identified but Mr Thompson said the fund would be seeking opportunities in renewable and clean energy, waste management, re-use and handling, conventional energy and distribution, and healthcare.

Other projects will involve public infrastructure, such as light rail, water, and seaports, and real estate ventures, including commercial, hospitality, and retail developments.