Davos 2017: Kenny and Noonan to reassure investors

Bilateral meetings at World Economic Forum come amid challenges to Irish economy

The Congress Centre during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan will meet investors at the forum. Photograph: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

The Congress Centre during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan will meet investors at the forum. Photograph: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan will seek to secure Ireland’s position as a global investment location when they meet dozens of current and prospective investors in Davos.

Mr Kenny and Mr Noonan arrived in the Swiss resort late on Wednesday afternoon, and are due to hold a series of bilateral meetings with senior figures in the banking, telecommunications and pharmaceutical world on the fringes of the World Economic Forum.

With Ireland facing unprecedented challenges to its economic model due to potential changes in US tax policy and concern over the impact on Ireland of Brexit, Mr Kenny and Mr Noonan will face a challenging task.

Unlike in previous years, the Taoiseach is not participating in any official panels at Davos, but is instead focusing exclusively on meeting investors.

Among the senior figures he is scheduled to meet is the chief executive of Lloyd’s of London, Dame Inga Beale.

The insurance group is due to announce details on its new location for its European subsidiary in the coming months, and the scheduled meeting has underscored hopes that Dublin could be chosen as an investment location.

Post-Brexit moves

Speaking in Davos on Wednesday, the chief executive of HSBC, Stuart Gulliver, said that the bank will move some staff to Paris after Britain leaves the European Union.

Sources confirmed that Irish officials are also in contact with the bank which already has a presence in Dublin.

Both Mr Kenny and Mr Noonan will attend an IDA dinner on Thursday night which will be attended by some 50 current and prospective clients.

Speaking in Davos, IDA chief Martin Shanahan said that most of his discussions with clients this year have focused on Brexit and its implications for Ireland.

“Our message this year is ‘Ireland is the closest thing you can get to the UK – only better’.”

“We are making it clear to investors that Ireland continues to offer advantages in terms of taxation, talent and a proven track record, but that it also offers a guaranteed access to the European market.”

May speech

Mr Shanahan said that Tuesday’s speech by British prime minister Theresa May had provided a certain amount of clarity to business about Britain’s ultimate destination, but questions still remain about what a future trade deal between Britain and the EU will look like.

“This year we are finding that Brexit, and Ireland’s position once Britain leaves the European Union, are coming up in conversations with both existing and prospective clients,” he said.

The IDA, which will be present in Davos until Saturday, is meeting a number of senior representatives from the financial services industry as well as the technology and pharmaceutical sectors over the coming days.

Mr Shanahan has also given a number of interviews to international media outlets including Bloomberg, France24 and the New York Times.