The New York State pension fund has committed to investing up to $50 million in Northern Ireland businesses as part of a US investment mission to the region. The fund’s comptroller, Tom DiNapoli, announced this investment, which will be made indirectly through private equity funds. This isn’t the first time the pension fund has invested in Northern Ireland using this approach.
The announcement was made during a delegation of businesspeople led by the United States Special Envoy Joe Kennedy III. This delegation came into being after President Joe Biden’s promise to promote US investment in Northern Ireland, with several US firms expressing interest. Some of these firms already employ over 30,000 people in the region.
The delegation is a mix of US companies already established in Northern Ireland and potential investors. DiNapoli explained that their interest in Northern Ireland dates back to a meeting with the late first and deputy first ministers, Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness. These leaders sought to move past their region’s troubled history and wanted to explore opportunities to grow the economy, encouraging New York State’s pension fund to be a part of this effort.
However, the pension fund’s size makes it unsuitable for direct investment in smaller Northern Irish projects. Therefore, the fund provides capital to external fund managers who source, evaluate, and make investment decisions. The hope is that other US pension funds will follow suit, which hasn’t happened to the extent desired yet. The renewed effort under Joe Kennedy and President Biden aims to encourage other pension funds to explore investment opportunities in Northern Ireland.
The delegation includes representatives from various investment funds, including the California state pension fund. Among the delegates is Tim Sweeney, the CEO of Liberty Mutual Insurance, which has a substantial IT operation in Northern Ireland and a local insurance business. John Murphy, the president and CFO of Coca-Cola, is also part of the delegation. Notably, Coca-Cola HBC, based near Lisburn, recently launched a new canning line, creating 35 jobs as part of a £17 million expansion.
The delegation’s goal is to educate and inform delegates about Northern Ireland’s highly skilled and motivated workforce, which benefits from the presence of world-class universities and colleges. This investment mission seeks to strengthen economic ties and foster business growth in Northern Ireland while promoting its vibrant talent pool and investment opportunities.
The Northern Ireland Civil Service, represented by Jayne Brady, is collaborating with businesses, academia, and government to highlight the region’s strengths and potential investment sectors, including advanced manufacturing, software, fintech, life and health sciences, and the creative industries. The region is striving to attract more foreign investment to boost its economy and employment opportunities.