20 years of investing in Ireland’s economy

6 September 2023

This year marks a key milestone for Macquarie in Ireland as it celebrates 20 years of operating in the Emerald Isle.

Growth in its operations and project portfolio over that time means it now employs more than 100 staff at its Dublin office, which serves institutional and corporate clients, manages international investments in local companies and projects, and provides critical operations support for some of Macquarie’s European and global businesses. 

Our local leaders reflect on Macquarie’s longstanding commitment to Ireland and our role in supporting its ambitious investment plans.

Ireland is an attractive destination for global capital. Economically, the country proved resilient from the COVID-19 pandemic, experiencing double-digit GDP growth in the two years following - its economy expanded by 13.6 per cent in 2021 and 12 per cent in 2022.1 Though that growth is now forecast to slow to around 5 per cent according to projections from the European Commission,2 this is still an enviable level of expansion.

As it responds to structural changes such as a growing population and the need to decarbonise its economy, Ireland has ambitions to attract more private investment alongside increased public funding.2

Ireland has perhaps the strongest pipeline of public-private partnership (PPP) projects in Europe.”

Gemma McRann
Senior Vice President
Macquarie Capital

“But there are also a range of opportunities beyond PPPs, in terms of supporting developers, management teams and projects across a range of sectors, including energy, social infrastructure and digital,” she adds. 

Partnering on infrastructure investment

The strength of the economy is enabling the Irish Government to move forward with its ambitious investment plans in social and transport infrastructure. Planned PPPs include the landmark ‘MetroLink’, an underground rail route connecting Swords and Dublin Airport to the city centre,3 and a project to build a new family law courts complex in central Dublin.4 In addition, the Government has announced four further social housing PPP bundles5 to deliver almost 3,000 homes.   

Macquarie Capital has a long history of partnering with the Irish Government through PPPs, says McRann. “From our first signing and delivery of four schools in Laois and Offaly in 2009, the team has delivered six further schools in 2010, Grangegorman Campus PPP, which brought together 10,000 students and 600 staff from 37 locations into one state of the art campus in 2018, and the first social housing bundle PPP in 2019 where Macquarie Capital and its partners delivered 538 new homes across Ireland. The team’s latest project is a €250 million PPP, which will see six new higher education facilities built at university campuses across the country.

“Through different market cycles that have included periods of considerable uncertainty and volatility, Macquarie has continued investing in Irish projects, recognising their importance to the country’s future infrastructure mix” says McRann. “With each of these, we leveraged our deep experience of PPP projects and funding capabilities around the world and understanding of how best to allocate risk between government, contractors and funders,” she adds.

Supporting Ireland’s energy transition

Macquarie is also supporting the country’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

Ireland’s 2023 Climate Action Plan set out the country’s ambitions to halve emissions and source at least 80 per cent of power from wind and solar by 2030.6 The scale of this challenge is significant and requires a joint approach between the public and private sectors, one in which Macquarie Asset Management hopes it can play a greater role.

Through its offshore wind development platform, Corio Generation, Macquarie Asset Management is developing the 450 MW Sceirde Rocks project off the coast of Galway. Once operational, the offshore wind farm will have the capacity to power the equivalent of more than 350,000 Irish homes.7

As Evans notes, Ireland’s geography – and its enviable wind resource, in particular – means that the country could eventually generate significantly more green energy than it can consume domestically.8 “Ireland has the potential to be an exporter of renewable electricity to the UK and the rest of Europe,” she says, adding that excess clean power could, in future, be used to produce emerging renewable fuels such as green hydrogen.

Furthermore, with a view to supporting the circular economy, a fund managed by Macquarie Asset Management acquired recycling and processing led waste-to-resource business Beauparc in 2021. With a market-leading position9 across Ireland through subsidiaries such as Panda and Greenstar, Beauparc seeks to generate value from residential and commercial waste while preventing materials that can be reused from entering landfill. One way it does this is by supplying waste to cement kilns and energy-from-waste facilities, with the goal of becoming a leader in Europe’s circular economy.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s moves to support international trade and investment have made it an attractive centre for global businesses such as Macquarie AirFinance, the aircraft lessor which has been based in Dublin since 2006. The Irish Government is supportive of businesses and investment and combined with a deep pool of local service providers and a skilled workforce, has enabled the business to grow significantly in recent years. It now leases 240 aircraft – worth more than $US5.8 billion – to more than 90 airlines around the world.

CEO Eamonn Bane expects Macquarie AirFinance to continue to expand as global demand for air travel grows. “About 80 per cent of the world’s population has never flown.10 There’s huge, untapped demand for air travel.” But that demand will have to be met sustainably, he adds.

Macquarie AirFinance is helping the airline industry move towards its goal of net zero by 2050 by leasing new aircraft that are 15 per cent more energy efficient than those they are replacing.11

Europe-wide operations

Macquarie has also invested heavily in Ireland as a base to support its wider European operations. Headquartered in Dublin, Macquarie Bank Europe undertakes the regulated banking activities and services that Macquarie provides to clients across the European Union.

This includes many of the risk and capital solutions provided by Macquarie’s Commodities and Global Markets business. Solutions which, Andrew Gates, Chief Executive of Macquarie Bank Europe, says, have been particularly important to corporate clients in Ireland. The high dependence of Ireland’s electricity grid on natural gas-fired power plants left many local utility companies scrambling to secure supplies and manage extreme price volatility during the height of Europe’s recent energy supply crunch.12

We made sure we were there for our clients throughout that volatility. We kept our doors open and were able to provide hedging across the spectrum of commodities.”

Andrew Gates
Chief Executive
Macquarie Bank Europe

“It’s about listening to the clients, responding to their needs and being flexible,” says Gates. 


Our commitment to Ireland

That flexibility and client focus has enabled Macquarie to significantly grow its business in Ireland over the past 20 years. “We take a long-term approach,” says Paul Plewman, Macquarie’s EMEA Chief Executive. “Whether it’s about discipline in investment, risk management, or from a sustainability perspective – that’s key to how we do business.”

“Macquarie is in a strong position to continue its growth in Ireland, with a team of market experts on the ground, across a range of sectors,” he adds. “We are excited by Ireland’s opportunities and the role we can play through investing in social infrastructure, supporting the green transition, backing Irish companies and growing the economy.”

  1. World Bank data
  2. ‘Economic forecast for Ireland’, European Commission
  3. Minister Ryan announces transformative MetroLink project’, Government of Ireland
  4. Minister Harris announces approval for development of new Macroom and Clonmel Garda Stations’, Government of Ireland
  5. Almost 600 new social homes to be delivered in Cork, Kildare, Monaghan, Sligo and Wicklow’, Government of Ireland
  6. Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2023’, KPMG
  7. ‘Powering Irish communities with affordable, clean and green energy’, Sceirde Rocks Windfarm
  8. Our Climate Neutral Future Zero by 50’, Wind Energy Ireland, March 2021
  9.  BeauParc
  10. Lizzy Gurdus, ‘Boeing CEO: Over 80% of the world has never taken a flight. We’re leveraging that for growth’, CNBC, 7 December 2017
  11. Based upon manufacturer fuel efficiency estimates for the Airbus A220, Airbus A320NEO and Boeing 737MAX models intended to be leased by Macquarie AirFinance.
  12. Energy flow for electricity generation’, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland