Saturday 18 November 2017

Future assured for business hub

WHEN the IFSC first took shape it was famed for luring big name banks to Ireland, but more recently international insurance giants have come to dominate new arrivals.

Swiss insurance super-power Zurich now occupies one of the most prominent buildings in the IFSC, running a hub for its European general insurance building from La Touche house.

Stroll a few paces down the road and you'll find Allianz Re Dublin in International House, Centre Reinsurance International in IFSC House, Eureko in George's Dock House and Porsche International Insurance in Exchange Place.

The IFSC's own website now boasts that "over a quarter" of IFSC companies are "involved in insurance-related operations" -- and many believe the number hasn't peaked yet.

"I'm still getting lots of calls from overseas entities wanting to set up here," says Sarah Goddard, who heads up international insurers' industry group DIMA.

The IFSC is now home to more than half the world's 20 biggest insurance companies, and DIMA boasts about 70 members.

For companies such as Zurich and Aviva, Ireland is a 'hub' for all their European businesses.

International re-insurers (the companies that insure insurance companies against claims beyond a certain level) are also using Ireland as a central base, but in a different way.

These reinsurers base a "group hub" here, and business from across different countries is channelled back to a single entity.

The structure has become particularly popular given impending capital rules known as Solvency II.

"We saw a huge amount of Solvency II activity last year and I'd be surprised if we didn't see more this year," says Ms Goddard.

Ireland is also a major world centre for "captive insurers" -- specialist firms that provide insurance exclusively to their own parent companies. The latest data makes Ireland the 16th largest centre in the world for captives.

The companies' reasons for coming here range from the low corporate tax rate to our English-speaking highly educated work force.

Ms Goddard says Ireland's regulation is a major plus.

IFSC tzar John Bruton is also beating Ireland's international insurance drum, but banks still outstrip insurers by about 3:1 in the IFSC.

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