Thursday 21 September 2017

Major projects for Ireland 'postponed' in 2009, IDA states

Negative sentiment towards Ireland impacted on 'deal flow'

IDA Ireland CEO Barry O'Leary and Tanaiste and Enterprise, Trade and Employment Minister Mary
Coughlan at the launch of the development authority's last annual report
IDA Ireland CEO Barry O'Leary and Tanaiste and Enterprise, Trade and Employment Minister Mary Coughlan at the launch of the development authority's last annual report

Emmet Oliver Deputy Business Editor

A number of foreign direct investments due to come to Ireland in 2009 ended up being "postponed'' due to negative sentiment and a "wait-and-see'' mindset, the head of the IDA said at a recent meeting.

In a presentation to the powerful Clearing House Group just before Christmas, Barry O'Leary, IDA chief executive, is understood to have said that 2009 was a very challenging year for financial services and that negative sentiment had impacted on what is called "deal flow''.

The state-funded organisation was unable to comment on what projects were postponed, but it is understood some of these may now occur this year, depending on international markets and sentiment towards Ireland.

Statement

In a recent end-of-year statement the organisation said it had secured 125 investments in 2009, although 70pc of these were from companies already located here.

It is understood Mr O'Leary told the group that companies were cautious about adding employees in the current climate.

The Irish Banking Federation has questioned whether IDA has done enough to promote financial services in its current campaign in the US. It is understood the IDA has given a commitment to do this in 2010.

The IDA is keen, like several other state bodies, to see an IFSC "tsar'' appointed by the government to promote financial services in Ireland. The Clearing House Group, which is made up of IFSC firms and civil servants, wants to recruit someone with an international presence.

At a meeting before Christmas some members are believed to have remarked that Ireland's poor international reputation at present may be stopping some foreign companies locating here.

Government officials have told the financial industry to submit a detailed proposal on the appointment of an IFSC 'tsar' to rebrand and promote the financial centre.

Dublin's IFSC, where 25,000 people are employed, has fallen dramatically in a major global index of financial hubs over the last 18 months -- from 10th to 23rd place.

The industry has been given a couple of weeks to submit the plan. A report by the Irish Management Institute, stemming from last year's economic forum at Farmleigh in Dublin, said the appointment of a prominent IFSC ambassador would help reposition the centre.

A planned charm offensive by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan of major North American financial centres, originally slated for October, has been postponed indefinitely.

Meanwhile, Mr Lenihan's staff are drawing up a series of measures for the upcoming Finance Bill to attract more business to the IFSC -- aimed at turning Dublin into a hub for funds industry management.

There is strong speculation that the minister may reintroduce some version of the so-called remittance basis of taxation, which was scrapped by his predecessor Brian Cowen four years ago.

Irish Independent

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