By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — Global software giant Microsoft is to establish a new Internet data center in Dublin to handle business transactions across the European, Middle East and African regions.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said the decision was a "very strong endorsement of the Government’s plans to make Ireland a world class e-business center."
From November, Microsoft customers will be able to download software from computer servers in Dublin and be billed and pay for it digitally.
Microsoft first established operations in Ireland 15 years ago and currently employs more than 1,600 people. It is the biggest single employer in the Irish software sector.
The company centralized all its European operations in Ireland in 1993 and the Dublin center now manages the manufacture, distribution and sales of products to 85 countries and transacts business in 18 currencies
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Income generated by Microsoft this year is expected to amount to 2 percent of Ireland’s GNP.
The company said almost 18 percent of Microsoft’s corporate revenues of 22.96 billion dollars in the year to last June were serviced and supported through Dublin.
There are 32 different nationalities with an average age of 28 employed in 12 locations in Dublin.
The company spends £267 million a year locally on labour, materials and services. Exports last year amounted to 5.5 percent of the country’s total.
Microsoft anticipates it will contribute over £366 million to the Exchequer in corporation, payroll and property taxes in the five years 1995-2000.
A company spokesman said he was unable to give details of the cost of the new investment or the number that will be employed. "What we are making is the strategic announcement," he said.
Ireland is the leading exporter of computer software products in the world.
Earlier this year, the OECD’s Information Technology Outlook 2000 report said Ireland went to the top of the global league in 1998 with exports worth almost 3.3 billion dollars compared to America’s 2.9 billion dollars.
Meanwhile, in County Donegal, Prumerica Systems Ireland Limited, the newly created off-shore programming and technology development subsidiary of the Prudential Insurance Company of America, has officially opened for business in Letterkenny.
The subsidiary currently employs about 60 people, possibly 75 by year-end and double that in 2001.
Prumerica Systems Ireland is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Prudential Insurance Company of America.
Prudential Insurance, with more than $366 billion in assets under management as of December last year, is one of the largest life insurance companies in the U.S. and is among the largest financial institutions in the world.
Also, Bill Friel, senior vicepresident and CIO of Prudential, announced that Prumerica Systems Ireland has created an internship position that will be filled each year by a degree-year student at Letterkenny Institute. In addition, Friel also announced that Prumerica Systems Ireland has established a relationship with the Donegal special Olympic committee and is donating the wrestling, football and track and field equipment that the Letterkenny Special Olympic Club members will need to train for the 2003 Special Olympics, which will be held in Ireland.