Global shipping hub plan has O’Brien as investor

Denis O’Brien is backing an ambitious proposal to build an international shipping services centre, a hub for the maritime industry in the Dublin docklands with the potential to create more than 3,500 jobs, the Irish Times has revealed.

The scheme, similar to the International Financial Services Centre, is being promoted by a company called ISSC Dublin, along with State agencies the Irish Maritime Development Organisation and IDA Ireland.

The Irish Times understands that Mr O’Brien, who has major interests in aviation finance through Aergo Capital, is providing the finance for the proposal. He did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.

ISSC Dublin submitted details of the plan to Dublin City Council, as part of a call by the council for submissions on the rezoning of land in the docklands. ISSC Dublin, whose directors include CBRE surveyor Cormac Megannety, owns business names registered at an address used by several of Mr O’Brien’s companies.

IMDO and Mr Megannety gave details of the project yesterday, although neither would comment on the identity of the investor. Mr Megannety originally submitted a plan for an ISSC to the Government’s Your Country, Your Call competition. He then approached IMDO, which had been working on a similar proposal.

“It will be a hub for shipping services to follow on from the IFSC,” said Mr Megannety. “It is fully funded. We have a few docklands sites in mind, but that’s all a little bit delicate at the moment. We are talking to several landowners.” It is understood that Nama, which controls swathes of docklands sites, has been approached.

Mr Megannety said ISSC would attract firms involved in shipping leasing, shipping finance, operations management and maritime education. He said Ireland’s 12.5 per cent corporation tax rate was one attraction, but that we also had a favourable tax regime for the industry via the tonnage tax.

Up to 6,000 jobs
Mr Megannety estimated ISSC could also bring 2,500 ancillary jobs, in addition to 3,500 jobs directly. He said the centre would aim to bring about 5 per cent of the global market for shipping services to Dublin.

Glen Murphy, the director of the IMDO, said the ISSC could make Dublin a rival to other international shipping services locations, such as Hong Kong or Singapore. He said there was already a skill-base in Dublin to staff the ISSC, as the city is home to a cluster of aviation finance companies at the IFSC. IMDO has also already helped attract some of the biggest names in global shipping to set up shop in Dublin, such as the giant d’Amico group.

IDA Ireland, which promotes Ireland globally as a place to invest, also made a submission to Dublin City Council in support of the ISSC idea. SOurce: The Irish Times.