Asset managers accounting for bulk of Irish Brexit moves

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Asset management and investment firms make up about half of the more than 100 finance companies that have applied to set up or extend operations in Ireland as a result of Brexit, the state agency competing to win foreign business said on Friday.

Kieran Donoghue, IDA Ireland's head of International Financial Services poses for a photograph in London, Britain, August 14, 2017. Picture taken August 14, 2017.REUTERS/Hannah McKay

The head of Ireland’s central bank said on Thursday that it is processing over 100 Brexit-related applications to authorise firms across sectors including investment management, banking, trading venues, payments and insurance.

Assuming they are approved, that will mean most of the firms who considered Ireland as a location to serve their EU customers after Brexit will have chosen it, often at the expense of rival financial centres, Kieran Donoghue, head of International Financial Services at IDA Ireland, said.

“The vast majority of engagements we’ve had have translated into authorisation applications. I think this is very positive and very encouraging. On balance, Ireland has done quite well thus far in terms of the opportunities that have arisen,” Donoghue told Reuters in a telephone interview.

“A lot of it is the investment, asset management space. I’d say it could be possibly up to half. There will be a significant increase in activity in investment management, probably, to be fair, building on Ireland’s reputation as a domicile for investment funds.”

Aberdeen Standard Investments SLA.L, Ashmore ASHM.L and Baillie Gifford are among the asset managers who have announced plans to set up a hub in Dublin, alongside major players like Barclays BARC.L and Bank of America BAC.N, who have said they will set up EU headquarters in the Irish capital.

Donoghue said most applications have been going through the central bank process for some time and only a handful or so had engaged more recently in response to political events, when Brexit negotiations hit a difficult patch last month.

Around a dozen of the firms that engaged with the IDA have already been authorised and another group in the “single digits” is set to apply by next month, meaning there will be a surge in published authorisations for the remainder by year-end.

“Many groups were working in practice towards an end of 2018 deadline, not March 29 (when Britain is set to leave the EU). There are a lot of quite advanced applications and our clients have said that they are expecting them to come through by year-end,” Donoghue said.

“The remainder of October and November will be quite significant.”

Editing by Jan Harvey