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Ireland’s growing capital markets Back  
Having reported on most of Ireland’s most significant capital markets deals for the best part of 17 years, this month sees the first annual compilation by us in FINANCE of the top deals in directory format. It provides a showcase of the industry in 2003, and the fruits of this labour can be seen on pages 6-10.
The fact that such a Directory is possible is an indication of the growth of the market, in depth, number of issuers, sophistication and volume. Activity from banks and corporates has been on the up over the past number of years, and what is notable from the directory is the variety of deals now being transacted. Playing a key role in new product developments are the international banks. Having played a leading role in developing Ireland’s asset covered security market, the international banks are also active in a number of other markets including medium-term notes, commercial paper and certificates of deposit. Ireland’s corporates are no slouches either when it comes to innovating, with eircom’s €1.1 billion high yield bond winning a number of international awards over the course of the year.

Moreover, Ireland’s capital markets extend beyond the deals profiled in this month’s issue. Last year, the first Irish roads public private partnership project closed - the Kilcock to Kinnegad road - which was followed by the financial close of the Dundalk Western Bypass in early February of this year. On page 3, Paul Leatherdale, head of DEPFA Bank’s special finance unit, says that with the recent announcement by EUROSTAT that PPP projects won’t be counted as Government debt, we should expect a flurry of deals being announced/closed over the short-term.

Elsewhere in this issue, we report on Dublin’s burgeoning hedge fund management sector, and the potential for growth and synergies in this industry. (See page 1) Also, on page 16 we examine the outlook for the Irish art market, with leading auctioneers advising on which artists to invest in.

Dublin as a franchise
This year, the theme of the fifth annual Finance Dublin conference is ‘Using the Irish franchise to grow your company’s operations’. It has become increasingly evident with the transformation of the original IFSC into a vibrant international financial services industry, that the difference between success and failure in determining a company’s ability to add value in Ireland is the decision of management, both Dublin-based and in the parent company to exploit to the fullest the opportunities available. This is borne out by two of the biggest company announcements of last year Merrill Lynch making Dublin its hub for support services, and HVB Bank spinning-off its international real estate division into a Dublin headquartered bank. Key executives from both of these operations will speak at the event, offering insights into how they did it. A number of other companies including BISYS Hedge Fund Services, Burdon Capital and Scotia Capital - will also present case studies on how the Dublin franchise was exploited.

Apart from the main plenary session on March 31st, this year, due to Ireland’s presidency of the EU, Finance Dublin, in association with Financial Services Ireland (FSI) will hold a colloquium, ‘A European Vision for Global Financial Services’ on March 30th. Speakers at the colloquium will discuss and promote a new and positive agenda for the EU after the Financial Services Action Plan, and will feature key note speeches from a number of high level market players and policy makers, including William McDonough, Chairman, Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) at the Securities and Exchange Commission and former eighth President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Michael Buckley, CEO, AIB, and Minister for Finance, Charlie McCreevy.

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