US companies in Dublin – Great to see yis lads

When former US president Bill Clinton told American executives that
they’d be “nuts” not to invest in Ireland, many were already ahead of
him.

US companies were behind almost 40 per cent of offices bought or
leased in Dublin last year and the trend is likely to accelerate this
year.

PayPal, which already employs about 1,500 people in Blanchardstown,
west Dublin, is today expected to announce plans to create 1,000 extra
jobs at a new facility in Dundalk, Co Louth.

Other internet firms including Google and Yelp are currently looking
for additional space in Dublin, as are Salesforce.com, Bank of New
York Mellon and Citigroup, according to people with knowledge of the
searches.

Facebook is also seeking to more than double the size of its European
headquarters in Dublin, according to informed sources.

The financial crisis that caused Ireland to seek the EU-IMF bailout in
2010 drove down commercial property rents as well as labour costs and
sparked new government initiatives to attract investment. US companies
leased or bought about nine times more space in Dublin last year than
they did in 2007, according to data from CBRE.

US companies were involved in 38 per cent of the office purchases or
leases in Dublin last year, up from 22.8 per cent in 2007, according
to the CBRE data.

The absorption of existing office space means more US companies will
probably need new facilities for them.

Since the financial collapse, the Government has been promoting the
country’s affordability and its links to the US as it tries to create
100,000 jobs by 2016 and reduce unemployment of 14.2 per cent.
Commercial property in Ireland is “a steal,” Mr Clinton told a forum
of investors including private- equity executives earlier this month

Ireland was the fifth most expensive location in the world for office
accommodation in 2007, today it is 45th.

The corporate tax rate is a vital part of the attraction for US
companies. So is transfer pricing, which involves the allocation of
income between units in different countries to avoid taxes.

Most of the companies opening in Dublin “put a toe in the water to see
what it’s like, see it’s easy to get good staff and then start
expanding,” said Fidelma Healy, chief operating officer at e-commerce
company Gilt Groupe (Ireland). The company has about 70 employees in
Ireland, 20 of them in Dublin, after it opened there last year.

MasterCard will add 130 employees in Dublin over the next four years
and expand into new offices, the company said last week, without
disclosing a new location.

Yelp, a social-networking and local-search company based in San
Francisco, is also among the companies seeking to add space in Dublin,
Jones Lang LaSalle said in a January report.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, has 2,200 employees in
Dublin. More than 3,000 will eventually be employed in its European
headquarters there, according to a filing by the company’s Irish unit.
The company is close to leasing 32,000 square feet of office space at
East Point business park..

Another Mountain View-based company, LinkedIn, leased space in 2011
and has increased the number of employees to about 175 from 30 since
last year.

Facebook is seeking to more than double the size of its European
headquarters in Dublin ahead of its $5 billion initial public offering
and is considering leasing the former Bank of Ireland headquarters
building. More than 350 people work at its Dublin office, set up in
2008.

Financial-services and information-technology companies are expressing
an interest in expanding, said Paddy Conlon, a CBRE director who
advises multinationals seeking to set up or enlarge operations in
Ireland.

“A number of pharmaceutical companies are also looking to expand into
Ireland” and others are considering moving their headquarters there,
he said.

Salesforce is looking to rent office space in south Dublin and
Citigroup’s Citibank is weighing renting office space near the city
centre, according to people familiar with the matter.

The IDA is already looking for the next wave of companies that will
open in Ireland, Mr O’Leary said.

The organisation keeps a list of companies run by former Google
employees it encounters to identify future expansion candidates. The
rapid growth of companies like Facebook, Zynga and Twitter led the IDA
to set up a new unit in 2010 targeting companies with less than $30
million a year in revenue. Thirty five of them have since set up in
Ireland, he said.

“We’ve already got the top 10 companies born of the internet,” said Mr
O’Leary. “We ain’t gonna stop at that.”
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