The Irish Strategic Investment Fund was set up to use the leftover cash after the National Pension Reserve Fund was used to recapitalise the banks after the crash. Its mandate is to invest in commercial projects to support economic activity in Ireland. The ISIF is conducting a market engagement event this morning.

Eugene O'Callaghan, CEO of the Irish Strategic Investment Fund, said the fund was involved in a very wide variety of projects across the economy from infrastructure, energy, SMEs, food and agriculture to life sciences. "We like to have private investment alongside us as we could get more bang for our buck. It's a better use of the overall fund. We've a loose target of one for one (euro) but we've been exceeding our target," he stated. 


Mr O'Callaghan said there was quite significant private sector interest. "We've committed €2.8 billion from the fund so far, but that has resulted in an overall commitment of €8 billion in investment," he said.

He explained that the Fund's mandate was to invest commercially to support economic activity and employment. "Housing is important as its a big enabler of economic activity in Ireland. We are active in the housing sector. If investments will happen anyway, there's no role for us. We want to be incremental. We want to provide capital that would generally not be available. We can go for longer timeframes and a more flexible approach to risk and introduce capital where companies otherwise would find it difficult," he said.

Eugene O'Callaghan said ultimately the ISIF was looking to make a commercial return for the taxpayer, so there is no erosion of state resources and, in parallel, generate economic activity that otherwise would not have happened. "It's an innovative concept in using state resources to generate economic activity," he concluded.

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MORNING BRIEFS - The price of oil fell back overnight despite members of the club of petroleum exporting nations agreeing to extend output cuts for another nine months bringing the agreement up to March 2018. OPEC's original production cuts were put in place after the price of Brent crude - the international benchmark - dropped below $30 a barrel early last year. The scaled back output did see prices go back over $50 a barrel but some recent price weakness forced OPEC members back to the negotiating table to look at extending the production cuts. That saw the price of Brent go up in recent days, but after the agreement was formally signed the price took a nose dive heading back towards the $51 mark.

*** Despite that news, markets on Wall Street notched up more gains yesterday. The S&P500 index closed at another record high as did the Nasdaq. It means markets on Wall Street have more than made up for last week's losses when political tensions in Washington had a knock on effect on stock markets. Traders appear to be impressed with the quarterly earnings coming out of US retailers in particular.

*** One of those companies putting in strong gains is Amazon and the mostly online retailer is boosting its high street presence with the opening of its seventh US bookshop in New York. It opened its first US store in Seattle two years ago and plans to have 13 by the end of the year.

*** An energy technology start up company from South Dublin was the winner of this year's National Enterprise Awards. Acutrace develops software and hardware solutions for energy measurement and lighting control systems in Commercial and Industrial buildings in ireland and the UK. The awards - which were presented in the Mansion House last night - are organised by the Local Enterprise Offices every year to celebrate Ireland's micro-enterprises.