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US tech firm leaves Ireland for US after Trump tax cuts

Internet domain registry business Afilias has moved its headquarters out of Dublin to the US, citing recent US tax changes as a reason for the move.

It’s a sign that Donald Trump’s efforts to attract business home are having an impact.

“We’ve long had a strong US presence,” said CEO Hal Lubsen. “More of the company’s shares are now owned by Americans, and our executive group is increasingly becoming American.

“However,” he added, “nothing really changes for our customers and our vendors. Afilias continues to be a global registry services provider; our operations will not be affected.

As Afilias’s US market heats up, the company anticipates increased hiring and investment in the US. Otherwise, no new paperwork or other changes will be requested of customers; all our offices worldwide will continue to operate as they have in the past; and pre-existing staff arrangements will not change,” the company said.

Afilias has had its headquarters here since 2001, saying it had set up in Dublin originally because it thought the “.info” domain would prove popular here.

It also said the “make-up of its initial ownership and leadership groups” and “other financial considerations” had played a part in the decision.

Today its two largest customers are based in the US and this, alongside the tax changes, was a factor in the relocation.

The IDA declined to comment on the move, saying it does not comment on individual companies.

But IDA boss Martin Shanahan said earlier this year that Mr Trump’s tax changes were causing businesses to rethink plans to invest in Ireland.

“We have seen a slowing of decision-making coming out of the US and our read of that is that US companies are taking stock,” he said as the IDA announced its full-year results for 2017 in June.

“They are looking at the new tax rules which they’re now subject to in the US and they are, as one company put it to me, running the numbers again to see what that now throws out in the context of the new tax regime.”

At the end of last year Mr Trump enacted a sweeping reform of the US tax system, slashing the country’s corporate tax rate. He also made changes to the way some foreign earnings are taxed as part of a drive to bring US business back to American soil.

Mr Shanahan said that as of that time the number of companies looking at Ireland has not yet been affected, and his ambition was that if companies look to set up outside the US to find new markets, Ireland will be the place they choose.

Afilias saw revenue increase from $92.7m in 2015 to $106.7m in 2016, according to its most recently filed Companies Registration Office accounts.

Profit before income tax went from $36.8m to $38.6m.

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