Ireland has a mountain of debt to repay - a whopping €85bn - and a mountain to climb in terms of restoring its reputation with international partners. Yet, Dublin insists it can beat off all competition.
If ever there was a tale of two cities it can be found today in the heaving metropolis of Dublin.
Simply contrast the story of general economic woe with the sparkling image being presented by Ireland's public and private sector movers and shakers.
On the one hand it's a gruesome melodrama about an overheated domestic economy which has left generations of ordinary citizens facing debts of €85bn - the EU/IMF bail-out package. And on the other, a whole different story is being told, of unprecedented growth in exports (€161bn in 2010) and record breaking figures from the IFIA - the Irish Funds Industry Association. By the end of last year, the net asset value of Irish domiciled funds reached an all time high of €963bn, up nearly a third from €748bn at the end of the previous year.
One of the fund industry's main tasks at the start of this year is to make sure its side of the story is being heard and, in particular, to attract the attention of its international partners whose continued commitment to Ireland is vital if it is to maintain its position as a world-class international jurisdiction for fund domicile, distribution and servicing.
Irish funds in numbers (Feb 2011)
|Total assets under administration - €1.8 trn|
|Total number of funds - 11,007|
|Services 43% of world's hedge fund assets|
|Domicile of choice to 63% of all European hedge funds|
|Value of Irish domiciled investment funds - €964bn|
|850 fund promoters from over 50 countries use Ireland as international fund hub.|
New leaders talk tough
Ireland's newly elected prime minister, Fina Gael's Enda Kenny, along with his Labour party coalition partners, has the unenviable task of contriving to see that the €85bn loan is paid back. First meetings with Ireland's European partners (some might call them masters) have debt rescheduling firmly at the top of the agenda.
There is no question that Ireland will seek first of all to attempt to set a precedent and renegotiate the terms of the aid package cost of borrowing which stands at 5.8%. Ireland hopes that that rate can be reduced to at least 4.5% which could be deemed fair when compared to the cost of 3.2% that Germany is paying for 10 year money.
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