Government ‘ignoring mid-sized companies’ in favour of multinationals and start-ups

Irish Stock Exchange chief calls for more balanced enterprise policy to support indigneous companies

The Government is ignoring Ireland's mid-size companies in favour of an enterprise policy aimed at supporting multinationals and start-ups, Irish Stock Exchange (ISE) chief executive Deirdre Somers has said.

Speaking at a Funding for Growth conference in Dublin, Ms Somers said Ireland needed a more balanced enterprise policy to enable the growth of a strong indigenous enterprise sector.

“Developing more home-grown success stories, which are capable of earning money abroad and spending it on creating jobs at home, can make a major and sustainable contribution to the economic and social life of this country.”

She said the Government should stop taxing investment in Ireland and Irish companies by charging stamp duty on investors who buy shares.

“The current taxation of share options makes it hugely unattractive for entrepreneurs to share in the benefits of growing their business to scale. A profound rethink about how we tax capital, share options and exits is necessary.”

Ms Somers said Ireland’s low corporation tax was not enough to deliver successful mid-market companies (those with annual turnover of more than €20 million and profits of more than €3 million), adding that a change in policy was needed.

Department of Finance secretary general John Moran told the conference, organised by the ISE, that there needed to be a change in the culture "right through schools and university" for people to have the belief they could set up a company and have it succeed, IPO and go global.

He said that private savers also needed to invest in companies or the Government would run out of resources. “The Government can’t fund everything…domestic savings should be driving a lot of this.”

Openet founder and chief technology officer Joe Hogan said Ireland needed to have incentives for companies to become mid-sized and not sell out too early/at the first offer.

“Compensation drives behaviour…there needs to be incentives to invest.”