Irish central bank awards €240m responsible investment equities mandate to Amundi

Central Bank of Ireland sought bids from PRI signatories

Ireland’s central bank has awarded its first ever outsourced mandate to French asset management giant Amundi, following a tender process restricted to investment managers committed to responsible investment.

The Central Bank of Ireland, regulator of the country’s financial institutions and markets, with investment assets of €18.7bn, awarded the initial €240m equities mandate to the Paris based global fund manager, according to the EU’s tender portal.

In the original notice – published in September 2016 – it was specified that prospective tenderers must be signatories to the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the United Nations supported initiative with more than 1,750 signatories, representing approximately $70tn in assets under management.

The Bank’s appointment of Amundi – a PRI signatory since 2006 – comes as a group of eight other central banks and financial supervisors – including the Bank of England, De Nederlandsche Bank, and the People’s Bank of China – had ramped up their commitment to tackling climate change with the formation of a network to help strengthen the global response to the Paris climate accord.

Speaking to RI, a spokesperson for the Irish central bank said that the decision to outsource the management of its new equities mandate was done for “operational reasons” and that “no decision on other outsourcing tenders has been made”.However, they did add that, “it is expected that the stipulation that managers must be PRI signatories will be incorporated in any future asset management outsourcing tenders”.

RI was also told that no consultants were used in the evaluation or awarding of the tender, which is valued at €700,000.

The Central Bank of Ireland is a member of the Eurosystem – which comprises all the national central banks of those countries that have adopted the euro and is led by the European Central Bank. Its main aim is to promote systemic financial stability.

Another development in Ireland is the news that the country’s parliament, the Dáil Éireann, is set to debate early this year a divestment bill which was approved in January 2017.

If successful, the proposed bill would force the country’s €8bn sovereign wealth fund, the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, to divest from fossil fuels by 2022, and would mark the first national ban on investing public money into the industry.

Speaking on Irish radio, Thomas Pringle, the independent parliamentarian who introduced the bill, said that “the Dáil … has agreed now to take it forward to the actual Finance Committee itself, which will deal with the actual criteria of the legislation…it’s the next stage in the progression of the bill”. He added that the Irish government has now indicated it is supportive of it.