“Privately he is understood to have described the situation as a ‘complete mess'”

An apparent development in the long-running saga of the much vaunted Emerald Fund is reported today by John Manley in the Irish News.

The fund’s continued failure to invest led to concerns being raised in the middle of last year among the powerful Irish-American lobby. After reviewing the activities of the Emerald Fund, the NYC comptroller’s office chose to initiate a termination of their relationship late last year.

Which would mean that just one transaction resulted from that relationship – as noted here.

When the private Emerald Infrastructure Development Fund made its first filing with the Securities Exchange Commission in October, it listed one of the comptroller’s oldest and closest supporters, a broker named William Howell [“a generous campaign contributor and fundraiser for Thompson”], as its placement agent on the deal. Howell’s fee, released pursuant to a Freedom of Information request last week by [then-NY City Comptroller William] Thompson’s office, was 2 percent of the pension fund’s investment—a total of $3 million, plus unspecified bonuses.

Alongside the Irish News report noted above, another by John Manley adds

Earlier in the day [US economic envoy] Mr [Declan] Kelly had stressed that the [New York City] pension funds were still keen to find investment opportunities in Ireland.

Privately he is understood to have described the situation as a “complete mess”, though publicly he would only say it was “complicated”.

“My focus is on preserving the goodwill and intent that was behind this commitment to help boost economic prosperity and create jobs in Northern Ireland,” he said.

“There is a willingness in New York if things can be worked out, though this will not be resolved in the short-term.”

The Co Tipperary-born US envoy said it would be a “couple of months” before it was clear how things could move forward.

He would not be drawn to comment in detail on what had caused the breakdown in relations between the comptroller’s office and the Emerald Fund. However, he said there had been concern at the lack of progress.

“Over time I believe the New York City comptroller’s office will articulate their decision and thinking,” Mr Kelly addded.

Last night, a statement from Emerald Development Managers in New York said even without the pension funds’ backing it remained “very interested in investment in Northern Ireland” and would be seeking “atttractive opportunities”.

“When it finds them, it will fund them from all sources of capital available to it,” the statement read.