US firms MSD and Autodesk to create 550 jobs in Dublin

By Pádraig Hoare

Pharmaceutical giant MSD is to create 350 jobs at a biotechnology facility in Dublin, in an indication that protectionist policies from US President Donald Trump have not impacted Ireland’s foreign direct investment (FDI).

Another 200 jobs were announced for Dublin by US software firm Autodesk.

Known as Merck in the US and Canada, MSD said it would build the facility at its former premises in Swords, which closed in June last year with 570 jobs lost there since 2013.

The cost of the new biotech facility was not revealed, but last year MSD said it would invest €280m up to 2020 at two of its three other Irish manufacturing sites in Carlow and Cork.

It announced plans this month to invest $12bn (€9.7bn) globally over five years in capital projects, of which €8bn will be spent in the US.

MSD employs more than 1,700 people in Carlow, Cork, Dublin, and Tipperary. Its Irish operations had a turnover of €4.7bn in 2016.

There had been fears that Mr Trump’s ‘America First’ policy could impact Ireland’s ability to attract investment from US companies, but that has not played out thus far, with record job growth in FDI jobs last year.

Ibec hailed the MSD investment, with chief executive Danny McCoy saying the Irish business model proved attractive for FDI. “Ireland is home to the top 10 global biopharma companies and biopharma is now the largest exporting sector from Ireland,” he said.

“This has not happened by chance but is due to the business model Ireland has developed over decades that is capable of both attracting and retaining multinational investment.”

Dublin Chamber warned such investment could not be taken for granted. Chief executive Mary Rose Burke said housing and education had to be invested in continuously in order to make Ireland attractive for companies like MSD.

“Failure to do so will result in skilled jobs being lost, not just to Dublin but to Ireland as a whole, as companies switch attention to competitor cities abroad,” she said.

Meanwhile, Autodesk said it would hire 200 people in finance, operations, localisation, and sales operations by the end of 2018 to support its business in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

IDA chief executive Martin Shanahan said Autodesk’s move to Ireland strengthens the country’s reputation as one welcoming to IT firms. “Autodesk was attracted to Ireland due to our international reputation as a location where companies can quickly establish their operations and rapidly expand using the strong pool of tech talent,” he said.

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