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MNI INTERVIEW: Ireland Open To Different Debt Maturities

MNI (Frankfurt)
FRANKFURT (MNI)

Ireland's 2021 issuance is on schedule, the National Treasury Management Agency's Frank O'Connor tells MNI.

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Ireland is considering all maturities for debt issuance this year, the head of the National Treasury Management Agency told MNI, noting investor demand in recent years at the longer end of the curve.

Levels of green issuance this year have still to be decided, Director of Funding and Debt Management Frank O'Connor said in written responses to emailed questions, noting that market feedback to the debt type had been positive.

Asked whether the NTMA is looking to sell any particular maturities, or if there are plans either to tap existing 50-100 year debt or launch new issues in the area, O'Connor said he would continue to look at all maturities. "In recent years our desire to lengthen and smoothen our maturity profile has been matched by investor demand for longer maturities."

"The fact that our maturity profile is relatively long and relatively smooth means that we've already locked in the benefits of low rates for long periods. As such even if interest rates go up, there would be a considerable time lag before that would feed through to our debt servicing costs."

ON SCHEDULE

Ireland's 2021 debt issuance is in line with and may be ahead of schedule, O'Connor said, adding that the absence of any bond maturities this year and significant cash balances brought from 2020 underline the country's strong funding position.

January's EUR5.5 billion syndication was an "encouraging" start its 2021 issuance programme, which has a target funding range of EUR16-20 billion in benchmark bonds.

The country has also issued T-bill worth EUR1.5bn to date, with three T-Bill auctions scheduled for Q1, and no plans at present to sell foreign currency bonds this year.

Ireland's initial allocation from the European Commission's Recovery and Resilience Fund is EUR853m spread across 2021 and 2022, O'Connor said, with a smaller amount likely to be received in 2023, although no assumption of monies received in 2021 were included in the NTMA's funding plans.