Trinity to make equity investments in infrastructure and property

Chief Financial Officer of College, Ian Matthews, said that he did not envisage consulting with students on future decisions.

Photo Credit: Joe McCallion/ Trinity News

Trinity has issued a request for tender with efforts of restructuring its €190 million endowment fund, The Irish Times has found. Trinity are aiming to transfer money from bonds into investments in infrastructure and property. 

Reaching out to independent investment advisers for assistance, College will perform an evaluation on the fund’s portfolio to move investment reduce its possession of low-yield bonds. The tender notice reads the college will increase investment in international infrastructure vehicles by €10 million, international property by €8 million, and all other assets by €9 million.

Currently, Trinity’s endowment is composed of more than 400 individual donations. The college utilizes a common investment scheme to process and invest the contributions. Motivation to alter the structure of the fund stems from Trinity’s 2016 decision to cease relations with the fossil fuel industry following an extensive student campaign.

The portfolio of the fund is presently managed by Irish Life Investment Manager, a company which provides financial advice to university projects.

According to The Irish Times, Trinity’s Chief Financial Officer, Ian Matthews, commented: “We’ve been looking at this for a long time, particularly and in the context of the low-yield environment that there is, and we’ve taken the view that we could create a new asset allocation and sell all our holdings in bonds.”

Matthews also noted that recent years have been characterized by an upward shift in the number of equities present in the fund. Today, approximately 65% of all investments are in the form of equities, with investments in property assets increasing from 10 to 14%. He recommended that the college “consider taking a little bit more risk and getting a better return in what is a low-yield environment”.

According to The Irish Times, Matthews also noted that he did not envisage consulting with students on future decisions.

Since losing about 25% of market value during the economic crash, the fund has increased from 47 million in 1996 to 190 million. In recent years, an additional €27 million has been distributed.

College invested €344,995 in BAE Systems, the third largest military contractor in the world. The British company designs and manufactures warships and submarines, which included the Tornado attack and reconnaissance jet used in the Falklands War.

In addition, Trinity has a stake worth €53,050 in Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of Trident intercontinental ballistic missiles. €72,153 is also held in the Boeing Company, which manufactures advanced weapons and fighter jets.

In 2017, The Irish Examiner found that Trinity had a stake in companies such as McDonald’s, Starbucks, Ryanair, Tiffany jewellers, Time Warner, Paddy Power Betfair, Netflix, Pepsi, Nike, and Ralph Lauren, as well as Chinese and African banks.

Earlier this month, at a town hall meeting held by Trinity’s Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) Matthews, said that he had considered the idea of placing a €1500 capital levy on undergraduate students. Matthews stated that it was his idea and that he took “ownership of it”. He stressed, however,  that it was a “high level concept” and that there had been no proposal.

At the meeting, Matthews also noted that College needs an additional €40 million a year to become “sustainable”. This followed the College Finance Committee’s approval of a 5% increase to current and incoming postgraduate and non-EU student undergraduate fees, beginning in the 2018/19 academic year.

Caroline Boyle

Caroline Boyle is a current Deputy News Editor of Trinity News. She is a Senior Fresh BESS student, and a former Senior Reporter.