Business Irish

Saturday 23 September 2017

Electronic Arts Irish arm sees turnover up 1,400pc to €15m

EA's Medal of Honour
EA's Medal of Honour
Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

REVENUE at the Irish arm of computer games giant Electronic Arts (EA) rocketed more than 1,400pc in 2012, but the firm paid no tax during the year.

EA is one of the biggest computer games companies in the world, counting franchises such as the 'FIFA' football series and the 'Medal of Honor' war series among its brands.

Accounts filed for Bioware Ireland Limited saw turnover increase from €991,438 to €14,983,366 during the 12 months to the end of March 2012.

The company provides customer support and network hosting services for EA's online role playing games.

Despite the surge in revenue, the company posted a profit of only €242,821 – up from a loss of €29,147 a year before.

Even with a small profit, Bioware paid no corporation tax during the year, mainly due to losses carried forward from previous years.

The company received a grant of €140,000 from the IDA during that time.

Much of the growth was apparently due to an increase in activity at the business, which was set up in April 2010 but did not begin trading until the following August.

Crucially, however, despite the sharp jump in turnover, the firm's administrative expenses rocketed from €984,628 to €14,323,394, thus minimising earnings for the business.

The company had a raft of board changes during the year, including John Ryan, the tax principal at law firm Matheson, who stepped down from Bioware on January 23, 2012.

The accounts note that Bioware paid more than €150,000 to Matheson for services rendered during the year.

The company secretary is named as Matsack Trust Limited, which has an address at 70 Sir John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin. Matheson is also based at that address. Matsack Trust Limited provides Matheson's company secretarial advisory services, and is a director of 1,427 companies, according to data from Vision-net.

Expansion

Despite being part of a US group, Bioware's parent company is based in the Netherlands. That parent, Electronic Arts Netherland, has provided a loan of €19m to Bioware, repayable by 2020 at 2.4pc interest per annum.

Bioware is based in Galway, where EA has a large customer service facility.

Last September, EA revealed plans to hire 300 more staff at the site. Making that announcement, Taoiseach Enda Kenny hailed the expansion as "a real endorsement of Ireland's ability to meet the needs of leading multinational companies in the digital media space".

That same month, EA decided to shut its PopCap games office in Dublin, putting almost 100 jobs at risk.

Emails to EA Games were not returned. A spokesman for Matheson declined to comment.

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