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Creating a new generation of national champions will insure our future

The most encouraging news of recent weeks was without doubt the jobs' announcements by Kerry Group and Paddy Power; two of the country's most impressive domestic businesses and two stalwarts of the quoted company sector in Ireland.

Between them, they announced plans for more than 1,500 jobs to support the continued growth of their respective businesses.

The announcements demonstrate the huge value of Irish-owned and run businesses giving something back to the economy that helped nurture them.

Coincidentally these announcements followed shortly after the Irish Stock Exchange hosted a major conference on the theme of "funding for growth".

The conference explored how we can help to create a new generation of national champions; indigenous firms like Kerry Group, Paddy Power, CRH or Ryanair.

Celebrating the success of these Irish companies is one thing, but we need to do more to ensure there is a pipeline of such enterprises coming down the tracks.

The current fashion seems to be for these start-ups to be acquired by multinational businesses at just the stage when, in previous years, they might have opted for an IPO and cemented their relationship with this economy.

Trade sales can be the best exit for many entrepreneurs but they also come at a cost for Ireland Inc.

Imagine what the Irish economy would have lost if Kerry Group's co-operative owners opted for a trade sale instead of becoming a company quoted?

Or if Ryanair had disappeared into a bigger airline group instead of becoming a PLC?

Or if Paddy Power's founding shareholders had sold out to a trade buyer?

The lesson is to create an environment that fosters a new generation of national champions -- truly Irish-owned and led companies -- which can grow to become international businesses themselves, making acquisitions rather than being acquired.

On this note it was heartening to see that an increasing number of Irish companies are acquiring overseas firms, according to the NCB Q3 survey on mergers and acquisitions -- among these are some of the long-term Irish-quoted PLCs, such as Smurfit Kappa, Kingspan and Glanbia.

Indo Business