Saturday 1 October 2016

The Punt: Center Parcs courts locals

Published 10/08/2015 | 02:30

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key

Center Parcs has been busy wooing the natives of Longford in relation to its €100m plan for a resort in the county, the Punt sees.

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The UK company, which was sold last month for £2.4bn (€3.4bn) by private equity giant Blackstone to Canadian firm Brookfield Property Partners, has yet to submit a planning application for the resort, but is due to do next month or in October.

Spread over 375 acres of land bought from Coillte, the resort will feature over 200 lodges and villas, restaurants, bars and swimming pools.

Center Parcs held an open day for locals in May, and another last Tuesday. Center Parcs' chief executive, Martin Dalby, was present at the first event and also at last week's meet and greet.

He's been giving locals details of the plans for the resort, which will employ about 750 people during construction and 1,000 for its operations.

"Our recent community day in May was a resounding success with over 600 people from Ballymahon and surrounding areas dropping by to meet our team and hear about or company and what we could bring to the area and region," according to Dalby.

There are big hopes in Longford that the resort will prove a boon for the county.

The unemployment rate in the Laois, Offaly, Westmeath and Longford area hit a peak of almost 20pc in 2011.

Construction of the resort will take about two-and-a-half years.

Dublin fare's not fair in NZ

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key is no stranger to Irish shores. Key, who was re-elected as Prime Minister last year, worked for US bank Merrill Lynch from 1995 to 2001.

During that time Key became a multimillionaire. He headed the company's international currency trading unit and was frequently in Dublin as the group moved most of its London business to the Irish capital.

The 'New Zealand Herald' reported last week that a staffer's credit card in Key's office racked up a NZ$87 (€52) taxi fare in Dublin in recent months, despite that employee being 18,000km away.

The cardholder hadn't been in Ireland in two years and had no knowledge of the fare.

Key's office said the employee's card details had been fraudulently.

The fare was reimbursed by the bank when the fraud came to light.

Zomato pumps €71m to Dublin

You say tomato, I say Zomato. Headquartered in India, international restaurant search business Zomato opened its Dublin office last year. It expects to employ 50 people there by the end of 2015.

Founded in New Delhi in 2008, Zomato currently employs 900 people in 19 countries.

It will soon embark on a fundraising round that's likely to value it at $1bn.

Zomato provides detailed restaurant information such as menus, contact details, geocoded maps and user reviews for 300,000 restaurants around the world.

More than 3,000 restaurants in Dublin are now covered by the service.

Filings with the companies office show that Zomato has been liberally showering its Irish arm, which is headed by Kevin McDonald, with cash in recent months. Most recently, the Indian parent injected €10m into the Irish unit. But between last December and this May, about €61m was stuffed into the Irish division.

Now, undoubtedly it doesn't take €71m to set up an Irish division, so there must other reasons for the large cash injections.

Zomato founder and chief executive Deepinder Goyal plans to launch the service in 18 European countries by the end of 2016.

Irish Independent

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