Together, we announced an unprecedented $150 million investment by the New York City Pension Funds that will diversify and strengthen the assets of our retirement systems while supporting the growing infrastructure needs of Northern Ireland.
The initiative marks the largest-ever public investment from the United States in Northern Ireland and signals a great opportunity for institutional investors such as the New York City Pension Funds to invest in Ireland’s future.
As a member of the board of trustees of four of the five pension funds and as investment advisor and custodian all five funds, I have the fiduciary responsibility of investing and protecting the funds for more than 600,000 retirees and current city employees.
With more than $110 billion in assets, the pension funds are always looking for investment opportunities that enable us to diversify our asset allocation and reap rewards for our beneficiaries.
We believe in the future of Northern Ireland, that there is great potential for long-term investment success in the region due to an historical under-investment in infrastructure. For more than two decades, the funds have been committed to promote peace and equality of opportunity in the region.
In my two terms as comptroller I have continued to use our leverage as a large investor to urge American companies in our portfolio with operations in Northern Ireland to promote equality of opportunity for all in Northern Ireland, whether they are Catholic or Protestant.
In November 2006, I traveled to Northern Ireland with a delegation that included Stephen Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York and a trustee of the New York City Fire Department Pension Fund, to explore the potential for increased New York City investment in the region.
We met with representatives of all the major parties in Northern Ireland and urged them to work toward a resolution in achieving a power-sharing government in an effort to establish the long-term stability conducive to foreign investment. In May 2007, such an agreement was reached.
Once the political parties did their part to create a more stable political environment, it was time for us to do ours.
Recent advancements towards peace in Northern Ireland have created attractive opportunities for investment. Companies doing business there will have access to a diverse and highly trained workforce, which is vital to ensuring a company’s long-term investment viability.
The new $150 million investment will be managed by Emerald Development Managers, LLC, and will primarily target projects in the alternative energy, waste management, property development, health care and conventional energy sectors.
Other projects will involve public infrastructure, such as light rail, water, and seaports; and real estate ventures, including commercial, hospitality, and retail developments.
Emerald has made a commitment to focus on new assets in order to create value and jobs in Northern Ireland. As with our prior investment, we will be monitoring closely to ensure that the highest standards of equality of opportunity are adhered to.
This week, I will attend the Northern Ireland Investment Conference to continue to build on this initiative, and explore further investment opportunities created by the dawn of a new era of peace and stability in Northern Ireland.
I am very excited to return to Northern Ireland and am optimistic about the opportunities for potential strong returns from investments in its expanding economy
The Conference is being sponsored by Invest Northern Ireland and is endorsed by the governments of Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Republic of Ireland, and the European Union. This conference will provide an opportunity for invited delegates to see the dramatic transformation that has taken place in Northern Ireland.
While in Belfast, I plan to meet with political and business leaders from each of these governments, as well as potential investors from the United States.
Our attendance at this conference demonstrates a continued, strong commitment to investing in Northern Ireland’s bright future. It is my hope that other public and private investment funds will soon join our effort, and increasingly make this area a major focus of their investment decision-making.
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.
William C. Thompson, Jr. serves as the Comptroller of the City of New York.