Strategic Investment Fund seeks new chief as O’Callaghan moves on

The head of the Irish Strategic Investment (ISIF) Eugene O’Callaghan plans to step down from his role at the end of 2020.

ISIF falls under the management of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), which will begin a recruitment process next month to appoint a new ISIF director.

ISIF was created in December 2014 from the assets of what had been the National Pensions Reserve Fund, including the State’s stakes in bailed out banks – known as the “directed portfolio” plus an €8.1bn so called “discretionary” portfolio that is actively managed by ISIF with a mandate to invest commercially to support economic activity and employment in Ireland.

The idea behind the move was to use the wealth of the former NPRF as a stimulus fund for the domestic economy as it emerged from the period of the global financial crisis and the EU/IMF bailout.

Since 2014, investments by the discretionary arm of the fund has been directed into areas including housebuilders and construction lending, SMEs, high potential start-ups through a tie-up with Silicon Valley Bank and investments focused on climate change.

Meanwhile, ISIF’s ‘directed portfolio’ of stakes in AIB and Bank of Ireland was valued at €7.8bn at the end of June 2019. By June 2020, this portfolio’s value had fallen to €2.6bn.

Eugene O’Callaghan has headed ISIF since it was established. He joined the NTMA in 2005 and was appointed Director of the NPRF in 2010 before transferring to ISIF. Before that he had been chief operating officer and executive director of Irish Life Investment Managers.

NTMA chief executive Conor O’Kelly said: “Eugene is one of the most respected investment professionals in the Irish market. He has been an invaluable colleague and I wish him every success and happiness as he begins a new chapter in his life.”

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