Dublin, a colourful alternative for Brexit, or not?

“Marking the celebration of the opening of our new London office in the City, more than 100 London based clients joint ING staff last week. I used the opportunity to travel to London as well, followed by a visit to Dublin, mentioned many times as an alternative to (financial) companies to set up their regional offices. Our colleagues started moving offices from London Wall to Moorgate on 20 June, three days before the Brexit vote… showing we are committed to our London presence irrespectively.”

Other investors and parties remain committed to London as well - earlier this month  a Chinese investor announced to move ahead with its GPB 800mln residential tower development in the Docklands. At over 235m the tower, once completed in 2020, will be the tallest in the UK and Western Europe. House prices in London, definitely when taking into consideration the devaluation of the pound sterling, are interesting now for overseas investors. Moody's had predicted a 25% correction, but that has not been evident so far. With average house prices of GBP 527,000, down from GBP 558,000 pre-Brexit vote, London nevertheless remains one of the most expensive residential locations.

Jeroen Plag

A blog by Jeroen Plag, head of Client Coverage Americas, Asia & UK, ING, on a business trip in the UK and Ireland.

Onwards to Dublin, I could clearly observe the various property development projects across the Docklands, as I left London from City airport. One of the striking differences with London is the maximum height of real estate in Dublin, nowhere a tower in sight, instead, more and longer traffic when traveling across town. Clearly the country has recovered well from the effects after the Lehman shock, with many (American) investors flocking to Dublin, having set up pan-European call, service and treasury centres.

One of the topics we discussed in Dublin with representatives from (American) subsidiaries was the aftermath after the Apple tax ruling by the European Commission. Clearly this has negatively impacted sentiment around Irish investments from Asian and US companies - rather untimely with the Brexit discussion and potential moves going on. The Irish clients we spoke seemed defiant and positive as they had overcome previous economic shocks as well as British rule before.

One of the colourful remnants of the British rule are the doors of Dublin houses, a very unique sight as every door has been painted a different colour. There are various stories behind this phenomenon - one popular version deals with Irish drinking habits. In order to get back safely to their own house after a good evening drinking, two famous writers and neighbours, George Moore and Oliver St. John Gogarty, decided to paint their doors in a very distinctive colour so they would end up in their own bed.

Another version has to do with British rule and the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. All citizens of the British empire were ordered to paint their doors black in mourning. The Irish immediately went out and repainted their doors in the brightest colours possible! 

Whether this time the Irish will 'prevail' and stand up against their neighbours, attracting any further foreign investors, remains to be seen.


Follow me: @jeroenplag


(September 2016)