Opening Bell: Oxfam slams Ireland's tax stance, new Dublin jobs, major agrochemical merger approved

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Oxfam has found strong evidence that Ireland is facilitating "significant corporate tax avoidance" by top European banks.

New research has shown that these banks reporting in Ireland made over €2.3 billion in profits on €3bn of turnover in 2015.

Oxfam has said this 76% profitability rate is four times higher than the global average.

Only the Cayman Island had a higher rate, with 167%.

The report of Europe's 20 biggest banks stated that:

"The 16 top European banks operating in Ireland examined in the research paid an average effective tax rate in Ireland of no more than 6% – half the statutory rate of 12.5% – with three banks (Barclays, RBS and Crédit Agricole) paying no more than 2%."

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Irish-based companies are among the biggest foreign owners of UK firms, the Irish Independent reports.

With Irish firms owning over 1,200 large UK businesses – with a combined turnover of £32bn (€37bn) in 2015 – Ireland ranks fifth in terms of UK business-ownership, ahead of Japan and far ahead of China.

More than a quarter of the UK's most important businesses are foreign-owned, according to figures from the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS).

US companies, which share no common market with the UK, own more firms than those of any other country.

US-based companies owned 5,378 UK firms with a combined turnover of £330bn in 2015. Germany came second, with France and the Netherlands following.

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Damovo has announced that it is creating 30 new jobs in Dublin.

Recruitment is already underway for the new roles which are primarily project management, project co-ordinators and Avaya technical support.

Damovo, a global technology business solutions company, was established in Ireland in 2001, initially to service the Irish market.

Its recently-opened Global Services Centre has grown to 26 people over the past 12 months. The company currently has 40 people in its Dublin operation across Damovo Ireland and Damovo Global Services.

Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor said:

"Ireland has a lot to offer global technology companies like Damovo. We have the available skills to match the needs of industry and are working to ensure that our future skills needs are met through ongoing synergies between colleges and industry. I welcome Damovo's expansion in Dublin and look forward to seeing them grow in the coming years."

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The $77 billion (€70bn) merger between Dow Chemical and DuPont has won European Union approval, overcoming regulator concerns over stunted innovation.

The EU had argued that the agrochemical combination could have meant an end to progress on new chemical products in areas where Dow and DuPont currently compete with each other.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said:

"We always look at what a merger would change not just today but also tomorrow."

Vestager stated that "it is just as important to make sure" that mergers don't "reduce innovation".

To allay these fears, DuPont will divest "a significant part" of its pesticide business, including R&D activities. Its global R&D organisation will be mostly sold off as well.

Dow will sell two plants in Spain and the US that make acid co-polymers.

The two companies called the decision a "regulatory milestone" that would act as a "significant step toward closing the merger transaction".
The US Justice Department is also expected to require divestitures before giving its approval.