Big firms to make Brexit calls in coming weeks, says IDA boss

Martin Shanahan says Ireland will retain its competitiveness despite Trump moves in US

Caroline Kelleher, director of policy, Limerick Chamber and Martin Shanahan, chief executive of IDA Ireland at a joint Limerick City and County Council and Limerick Chamber event.  Photograph: Sean Curtin /  True Media.

Caroline Kelleher, director of policy, Limerick Chamber and Martin Shanahan, chief executive of IDA Ireland at a joint Limerick City and County Council and Limerick Chamber event. Photograph: Sean Curtin / True Media.

 

The chief executive of IDA Ireland has said he expects a number of companies to signal where they plan to locate in the post-Brexit world “in the next number of weeks”.

Martin Shanahan said that the waiting game was over and that companies had done their research. He said shareholders and clients now needed to be informed.

He was speaking in the wake of comments from Barclays Bank chief executive Jes Staley, who said the bank was strongly considering moving its European headquarters to Dublin, and news that Morgan Stanley is actively scouting office space in Dublin.

“I spent the latter part of last week in London. We are at the point now where companies have done a lot of due diligence, some pre the vote last year, mostly post the vote,” Mr Shanahan told a business breakfast event in Limerick on Friday.

“They have done all their desk-based research and moved to a situation where they have, in many cases, two or three possible locations they are looking at in a serious way, to a point where my expectation is that in the next number of weeks we will see companies making decisions about where they are going to locate in a post-Brexit world.”

Mr Shanahan said companies were most unlikely to wait for the outcome of political discussions in Whitehall or in Brussels.

“They are going to move ahead because they have to move ahead. They have to give their shareholders clarity about what the plan is and give their clients clarity and certainty,” he said.

Potential risk

Despite the potential risk to trade, Ireland is expected to reap a Brexit dividend as companies seek to maintain their EU passporting rights for goods and services by relocating outside the UK.

The IDA chief executive said he expected all regions, and not just Dublin, to benefit. He also said Limerick and the midwest was now the fastest growing region outside the capital, creating 9,000 jobs over the past three years.

Mr Shanahan said the other big issue facing Ireland’s export-led economy was the new US administration and what that might mean from a foreign direct investment (FDI) perspective.

“ There is an expectation that there are maybe tax reforms in the US and an expectation that there might be something done around the repatriation of profits, that there might be a stimulus programme, that there may be adjustments to the regulatory landscapes in the US,” he said.

Mr Shanahan said the heads of US multinationals that he had met in recent weeks were on the whole positive about the outlook.

“They are extremely bullish on the US economy and the markets reflect that. We have seen a significant rise in the US markets. Those things don’t concern us hugely. I don’t believe they will detract from our competitiveness,” he said.

Also speaking at the event, which was hosted by Limerick City and County Council and Limerick Chamber, was the local authority’s head of marketing and communications, Laura Ryan, who said: “We are going through one of the greatest economic periods in Limerick’s history and it hasn’t happened by accident.

“There’s a confluence of unprecedented investment happening through key regional stakeholders here, from our local authority to Shannon Airport, Shannon Foynes Port Company and third-level institutions, among others.”