Novartis may expand Irish operation
PHARMACEUTICAL FIRM Novartis, Europe’s largest drugmaker by revenue, is understood to be considering expanding its Irish operations.
The Swiss company, which employs about 500 people here, has an operation at Beech Hill office park in Clonskeagh, south Dublin, and a manufacturing facility in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork.
According to news service Bloomberg, it is considering leasing an additional 9,300sq m (100,000sq ft) in Dublin, with the Elm Park development in Blackrock, Co Dublin, one of the properties it is looking at.
The mixed-use residential and commercial development still has substantial letting capacity.
Bloomberg also indicated that Novartis is working with the IDA.
If the pharmaceutical company were to go ahead with such a deal, it would likely be the largest the Dublin market has seen for some time.
Google’s acquisition of the Montevetro building on Barrow Street in Dublin 4 was the last major move.
It acquired the building, which has about 19,500sq m of office space, for €100 million in February 2011.
According to a recent Dublin market report from Savills estate agents, there was a slight drop in the office vacancy rate in the second quarter of the year, but it remains elevated at 21 per cent, down from 23.9 per cent last year.
Given the scale of the office space being considered, it is likely that an expansion might be on the cards for the pharmaceutical group.
Novartis reported profits for its two Irish operations of about €13 million in 2010, based on turnover of €175 million.
Earlier this year, European regulators endorsed the continued use of Novartis’s multiple sclerosis pill, Gilenya, one of its new drug hopes. This means that the drug remains on track to become a “blockbuster” – one with annual sales of more than $1 billion (€800 million).
Novartis is racing to develop new drugs as patents expire on some of its best-selling ones.
Ireland is particularly strong at attracting pharmaceutical companies, with nine of the top 10 global companies located here. The sector employs almost 50,000 people in total.