Indigenous firms are also prospering

As we move into autumn, corporate Ireland continues to grow and expand.

The Iseq Index, which is a useful reference point, is up 6% this year despite facing a wild geopolitical backdrop, as well as Brexit and volatile currency swings.

Many Irish led companies continue to plough a global strategy to provide them with the scale they desire.

All of this should be considered through two prisms.

The first is what effect are these companies having on the actual Irish economy.

The second is an analysis of how these companies fare against their toughest international competitors.

At home, companies have a key role in providing investment that supports jobs and boosts the competitiveness of goods and services produced and sold from Ireland.

In many cases it is global corporations picking Ireland to serve European, Middle East and African markets that make the headlines.

Indeed, foreign direct investment has been a key component of positive momentum regarding jobs for a number of years, underpinned by consistent Government policies that help attract investments.

Brexit has added to that pulse by providing a wave of relocation projects in the Dublin area, in particular.

Indigenous Irish companies, especially those listed on the stock market, boost the Irish economy.

Recent listings, including the property REITs such as Green, Hibernia and Ires are entirely focused on investment projects in Ireland.

A large number of commercial and residential investment projects have followed their capital raising, creating valuable economic activity as a result.

The housebuilder Cairn and the hotel group Dalata have also tapped institutional investors to fund housebuilding and hotel development projects. These have created many jobs and boosted revenues for the exchequer.

Another set of Irish managed companies are focused on building global enterprises. In recent weeks, we have seen companies such as Kingspan and CRH announce acquisitions to expand in Latin America and continental Europe.

Food companies are also busy scaling up in various food markets abroad.

This mix of business activity creates a hugely important set of opportunities for Irish graduates and entrepreneurs.

I remember when leaving university in the 1980s, a couple of friends joined the Kerry Group graduate programme.

At the time, Kerry was a scrappy underdog in the agri-food industry. Some thought it would fail to compete with industry leaders.

Over 30 years later, Kerry is a giant in the global taste and ingredients market and my student colleagues have leadership roles in the business.

This story is replicated in many other companies. Maintenance engineers and Irish army officers have emerged as leaders in Ryanair.

CRH has created executive roles for generations of Irish graduates. More recently, the forecourt retailer Applegreen has begun to expand outside Ireland into the UK and US.

Supporting foreign direct investment and fostering home-grown corporate talent is the best way for Government to face the challenges ahead.

That means continuing funding for the IDA and Enterprise Ireland and shaping policies to encourage capital raising by indigenous companies.

The recent decision to abolish stamp duty on share trading on the Enterprise Securities Market and to support the “IPO Ready” programme are positive steps.

Joe Gill is a director of corporate broking at Goodbody. His views are personal.


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