Irish Just ‘Doing Job’ by Targeting U.K. Finance Jobs on Brexit

  • IDA Ireland moves European head to London before Brexit Vote
  • Ireland ‘not seeking to exploit’ situation, IDA head says

Ireland will continue to pursue international finance investment regardless of the outcome of the U.K. ’s referendum on exiting the European Union, the head of the agency charged with luring investors to the country said.

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IDA Ireland has already pitched to U.K. and international lenders including Standard Chartered Plc about relocating hundreds of traders and support staff in the event of a Brexit, people familiar with the matter said earlier this month.

“We talk to everyone,” Martin Shanahan, the agency’s head, said in an interview in his Dublin office last week, declining to give any more details. “Before the referendum was promised, we were marketing, we are doing it now and will do so after the referendum. We are doing our job, which is to market Ireland.”

A U.K. exit from the EU could push about 6 billion euros ($6.7 billion) of investment into Ireland, the nation’s debt office said, adding Dublin would be an “obvious” choice for finance companies seeking to relocate. London’s financiers have warned Brexit would prompt overseas banks to move jobs because some products can’t be traded outside the EU without specific agreements. While Brexit would damage Ireland on the whole, it may offer opportunities, Shanahan said.

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“If you give people a reason to look around, you are giving people an opportunity to look at other jurisdictions. The context has changed, and that’s not of Ireland’s making,” said Shanahan, 43, who took over as head of the organization almost two years ago. “We are not seeking to exploit the situation.”

The IDA has moved its European head to London from Frankfurt, with senior management also flying to London from Dublin as the agency chases finance jobs. In a move which Shanahan says was unrelated to Brexit concerns, Credit Suisse Group AG said in December that it will make Dublin its primary hub for servicing hedge funds in Europe, moving some jobs from London.

“We were having those meetings six months, 12 months ago, ” Shanahan said. “That’s what IDA does, goes and knocks on doors and introduces Ireland. Have we a more receptive audience because of the context? Possibly.”  

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