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Microsoft founder Bill Gates

Bill Gates sees his faith in Irish recovery justified as bond investments soar

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Microsoft founder Bill Gates

Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates is cashing in after backing Ireland’s ability to bounce back from recession.

The world’s richest man is enjoying massive profits after his foundation bought Irish government bonds.

The Sunday Independent reports that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has made a fortune on his bond holdings.

The bonds have rocketed in value as Ireland exits the EU/IMF bailout and met the terms imposed after the collapse of the Celtic Tiger.

The report adds that Gates regained his crown as the world’s richest man last week when the Bloomberg Billionaires index rated his wealth at $78.5bn, up $15.8bn in the last year.

The paper says the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation owns nearly $20m worth of Irish bonds.

It outlines that at the end of December 2012, it held close to $7.8m worth of Irish 5.4 government bonds with a maturity of 2025, $6.03m worth of Irish 5 government bonds with a maturity of 2020, and $4.14m worth of Irish 4.5 bonds with a maturity of 2020.

The report says the bonds have been a spectacular investment, returning close to 10 per cent over the last year.

The Bloomberg World Bond Index for 2013 rated Irish bonds as the second-best performing government debt as they generated returns of close to 12 per cent for investors.

US investor Franklin Templeton, led by renowned trader, Michael Hasenstab, have also bet heavily on the Irish recovery.

The paper says the Gates investment in Irish government bonds is bigger than its holdings in gilts from other countries.

The foundation lists a $14.5m holding in British government bonds, over $12m in French bonds, $4m in Swedish government bonds and $12.7m in New Zealand government bonds.

Gates has also seen shareholdings in seven Irish public companies soar with those shareholdings are now worth over €23m.

The Gates Foundation owns 61.6 million shares in Bank of Ireland, worth around €18.5m as well as shares in bookmaker firm Paddy Power.

Gates was also a bondholder in Anglo Irish Bank, Irish Nationwide Building Society, Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Banks, according to filings obtained by the Sunday Independent.

The documents showed that the Gates Foundation trust held almost €27m worth of bonds in Irish banks at the tail end of 2006. This included 7.29 million bonds in Anglo Irish and associated entities, which it valued at nearly €8.15m.

The Gates Foundation trust held Irish bank bonds worth €16m at the end of 2007 but latest filings reveal that it no longer holds any bonds in Irish banks.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest private endowment fund in the world, with about €28bn in asset earmarked for good causes.

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