Professionals from the technology, financial services, pharmaceuticals, engineering and new media sectors were warmly welcomed to No. 25 Fitzwilliam Place in Dublin on November 28 for Irish family business Glandore’s inaugural alumni celebration featuring guest speaker, Martin Shanahan, CEO of IDA Ireland.
During the evening, which commenced with a drinks reception and saw Glandore international alumni reunited over an intimate, four-course dinner, guests met with each other and reconnected with the Glandore team in a relaxed and enjoyable setting.
Countries represented by Glandore alumni companies included USA, China, UK, France, Australia, Norway and Luxemburg. The event offered an informative and enjoyable networking opportunity for Glandore alumni, Glandore team members and IDA Ireland, Ireland's inward investment promotion agency.
Guests enjoyed the opportunity to hear where it all began and the history of Glandore supporting foreign direct investment (FDI) in Ireland from Glandore's Managing Director, Michael Kelly
, who offered “Failte Ui Ceallaigh”, the famous “O’Kelly Welcome”.
‘Glandore are very proud to have played a small part in your success in Ireland and it gives us huge pleasure to have you with us here tonight,’ Kelly said. ‘Our mission is to provide an environment that inspires, supports and facilitates the growth and success of our member companies’.
Michael Kelly sincerely thanked guests in his speech, for trusting Glandore to have taken care of their teams during their stay with the leading flexible provider, and for their ongoing support and goodwill. He also discussed his hopes that the Glandore Alumni Network will become a source of support and mentorship for Glandore’s current international member companies that are starting out on their journey in Ireland.
Recognising the ‘tremendous work of IDA Ireland’ and commending their commitment to winning guests business investment for Ireland, Kelly commented ‘The companies in this room are testament to the wonderful work of the IDA’.
Later in the evening, Director Clare Kelly
recounted some of her fond memories with alumni companies, whilst again highlighting Glandore’s appreciation of
Martin Shanahan, CEO of IDA Ireland
and his leadership team.
Guest of honour and speaker, Martin Shanahan shared fascinating insights and an in-depth overview of the role FDI has played in Ireland. Shanahan commended the huge support Glandore continue to provide IDA Ireland as well as expressing gratitude to those present. ‘Many of you are also IDA client companies. Thank you very much; we do not take your investment for granted.’ he said.
As Ireland currently sits in the fortunate position in that the investment pipeline is strong, Shanahan shared his perspectives on how he sees the world at the moment. Addressing the macro-economic situation, which has changed drastically over the last number of years, he said:
‘We came from a situation where we couldn't borrow in the international market - unemployment was increasing, our debt was increasing - to a situation where all of the economic indicators are pointing in the right direction. That doesn't mean we don't still have more work to do, we certainly still have more to do when it comes to the overall debt level, but I think we can take comfort from the turnaround that has been achieved in the economy over the last number of years.’
‘By any objective measure it is a stunning turnaround.’
Shanahan spoke with gratitude of how much of that was down to the work of the companies in the room, and their foreign direct investment. ‘It powered the economy even when the domestic side of the economy wasn't able to do that. It showed great commitment to Ireland. Again, I think that's something we're extremely thankful for.’
The role of IDA Ireland
Observing the fact that Ireland has the most rapidly growing economy in Europe, Shanahan stated that this 'creates its own challenges'. He listed the demand for commercial office space and infrastructure as examples of these. He also mentioned the widely addressed issue of housing saying that it is a ‘top government priority’ and that there are ‘a lot of actions [being] taken there to try to address the issues’.
‘IDA know better than anybody else the competitive nature of the other countries out there who are trying to win business investment, who are trying to attract investment from your companies,’ he said on the importance of being continually conscious of competitiveness and not taking for granted the competitiveness of the economy.
‘We would continually make the case to government, in all parts of government, as to what we need to do to continue to keep Ireland competitive internationally’.
Shanahan highlighted IDA’s very clear strategy to win 80,000 jobs, 90 with investments, between the years 2015 – 2019, and that they are well ahead of target. IDA Ireland have further targets which include achieving 3-billion-euro investment in research and development through IDA client companies as well as increasing investments outside of Dublin by 30 to 40pc over the previous five-year period.
Sharing further insight into the next wave of companies coming in to Ireland, Shanahan nodded to fellow event guest IDA Ireland Head of Emerging Business Barry O'Dowd’s area, and how it has been extremely strong. Shanahan said:
‘All companies start small and part of our strategy is to target those companies while they're still relatively small, when they're thinking about internationalising. We want Ireland to be their first call when they think about internationalising.’
‘Some of those companies will continue to go on to be the next big thing and some of those companies will be acquired or they will merge. Some of those companies may not be the next big thing, but we have to be in the game. It's only through being in the game that we're going to ensure that we have the next wave of investment.’
Brexit: The opportunities, issues and challenges
As expected, Shanahan raised the topic of the Brexit referendum, light-heartedly noting that ‘we are, in Ireland, mostly occupied about Brexit. The further away you go from Ireland, including the UK, the less interested people are about Brexit’.
IDA Ireland's chief executive said Brexit is both an opportunity and a challenge from an inward investment perspective. Overall as a country, Shanahan understands that it is a significant challenge; politically, economically and socially.
‘It's going to be very challenging for indigenous companies that trade into the UK predominantly,’
‘Opportunities arise from existing companies who are based in the UK who now need a European footprint’.
We've seen a lot of financial services companies at the forefront of that wave. However, Shanahan told the room it isn't just about international financial services, although IDA Ireland are very grateful for those who have made the decision, referencing JP Morgan, Bank of America and Barclays as recent inward investment wins.
Shanahan also sees significant opportunities from technology companies who have concerns around data privacy and where they’re going to hold their process data in a post-Brexit world, as well as opportunities from pharmaceutical companies around the subject of releasing and distributing into the European market.
Another part of the opportunity from a Brexit perspective, said Shanahan, is the future pipeline of investment. Traditionally, the majority of FDI into Europe has gone to the UK.
‘50pc of that was to service a UK market, that 50pc will continue to go to the UK to service a UK market. But, 50pc of it is to service a European market or an EMEA market, and that 50pc is now in play’.
As well as the Brexit result, Shanahan spoke of how the Trump administration too has 'shaken things up'. US companies make up about 69pc of the IDA’s portfolio but according to Shanahan, they are further trying to grow investment from Europe and growth markets. Such as Asia-Pacific (APAC) which, at the moment, is growing more quickly than the US.
‘While the US economy is doing very well at the moment, obviously all economies are cyclical and there will come a day where it is not doing as well,‘ said Shanahan.
On the topic of tax reforms and Ireland's talent
In recent weeks, we’ve seen the long-awaited tax reform proposals come from both the house and the senate. In response to the media continuously asking whether this is going to be the end of FDI into Ireland, Shanahan stated the ‘answer is clearly no’.
‘Companies will need to internationalise because they are market seeking, because they are looking for talent, because they are looking for innovation - wherever it is. And there is no one country nor one continent that has a monopoly on these things’.
Shanahan mentioned the ability for US companies to build global teams in Ireland as a key reason why they see Ireland as extraordinarily attractive. Noting Ireland’s indigenous good talent but ‘more importantly’ the very strong talent from abroad Ireland has attracted, Shanahan said ‘We continue to remain open and welcoming and continue to remain flexible from a visa and work permit perspective’.
Regardless of the political developments this week, Shanahan assured guests that Ireland still looks ‘remarkably stable’.
‘We don’t have the extremes of the political spectrum that exists elsewhere’
‘We have the two major parties, that have governed the state interchangeably since its foundation. Both share the same view in relation to enterprise policy and they are pro-enterprise. That gives huge comfort to investors abroad, and again, we shouldn't take that for granted. Internationally, Ireland is seen as a safe bet’.
The future of Europe
Shanahan said that there is no question that Europe is politically weakened by the exit of the UK. He said ‘Europe needs to do more work on what its future looks like’.
‘Work needs to be done on focusing on what the European project is about, about focussing on growth, on jobs and innovation in Europe and making Europe competitive relative to the rest of the world. There is too much focus on individual members states and what advantage they might be achieving over the other.’
On the issue of taxation, Shanahan categorically said, Ireland does not have a case to answer for.
‘We should be unapologetic about our taxation system. We have one of the most transparent, competitive, consistent taxation regimes in the world’.
Shanahan said that they see the rest of the world follow suit, trying to make their own taxation systems more competitive and reducing their rates. Stating that Ireland is the first country in the world to introduce country by country reporting, he continued to say that Ireland has ‘addressed the issues that are within our control in relation to the issue of tax avoidance’. Shanahan called for countries to move together multilaterally in order to address the issue of tax avoidance.
‘It is not an Irish issue. It suits some people to claim that it is an Irish issue. I think if anything the recent Paradise Papers show, it truly isn't an Irish issue, it's a global issue’.
FDI and its impact on Ireland
Referencing Clare Kelly’s earlier point on the impact of FDI, Shanahan called out commentators’ ‘simplistic analysis of the Irish economy’, who say ‘it's either one thing or the other. It's either we have FDI or we grow indigenous companies’.
‘Clearly that’s nonsense,’ Shanahan said. ‘We need both. The two things are interwoven and having a strong FDI cart of companies in no way inhibits indigenous companies from growing. In-fact, if anything, it assists them. The policies which we use to promote one, promotes them all.’
Shanahan concluded by commending Glandore’s efforts in this regard.
‘For an Irish business, that you and your family have built Michael, you deserve great credit. We need more examples like you and well done’.
See images from the evening here.
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