Pfizer’s Irish tax affairs under US senate committee spotlight

Seen & Heard: Homebuilder Cairn buys Dublin site, Blanchardstown SC debt deal; CRH invests in Ukraine and Citigroup staff unease

The US senate finance committee has written to Pfizer demanding that the New York-based drugmaker disclose information about its Irish tax affairs as lawmakers in Washington continue an investigation into big pharma tax strategies, the Sunday Independent reports.

The chairman of the influential committee, Democrat senator Ron Wyden, wrote to Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla last week asking if the company has signed any tax incentive agreements with the Irish Government – or if it locates any income in the Republic for tax purposes.

The reports noted that Irish authorities are likely to be concerned about the development. Pfizer employs 5,000 staff in the State. Pfizer has had a tax rate of below 10 per cent over the past five years, well below the US headline 21 per cent rate.

Cairn buys north Dublin site that could deliver 1,000 homes


Cairn Homes, the publicly-quoted housebuilder, has bought a site in Donabate, north Co Dublin, capable of delivering more than 1,000 homes, for more than €50 million, according to the Sunday Times.

The report says that the company acquired the land from home builder Cannon Kirk, which is backed by US private equity firm Oaktree. Oaktree backed Cannon Kirk’s exit from the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) seven years ago after providing more than €100 million to the company to assist it in redeeming its Nama borrowings at face value and also giving it capital to grow.

The deal marks Cairn’s return to the acquisitions trail, having been largely quiet on this front in recent years as it developed a massive land bank it had acquired before and after its initial public offering (IPO) in 2015. The report notes that residents near the Donabate site agreed in March to drop a judicial review, allowing Canon Kirk to proceed with a proposed development.

Blanchardstown Centre slow sale facilitated by debt deal

The Sunday Times also reports that senior lenders to the Blanchardstown Centre in northwest Dublin have agreed to extend the term of borrowers in a move that will allow for an orderly sale of the shopping complex to maximise value.

Goldman Sachs, which acquired the centre for €750 million in late 2020 and also counts as a junior lender to the 112,000sq m (1.2m sq ft) development, put the mall on the market last year, with the deal initially carrying a €650 million-€725 million price tag.

However, the process has been slow, leading senior lenders Morgan Stanley, AIG and Hayfin Capital to extend the maturity of debt attached to the centre, the newspaper said.

News of the development comes days after AIB appointed receivers to The Square Town Centre in Tallaght to protect its interests as main lender to the landmark retail complex, after a sale of the business for a knock-down price stalled. The receivers will now oversee an orderly sale.

CRH invests €80m in Ukraine since Russian invasion

The Sunday Independent reports CRH has invested €80 million in its Ukrainian operations since Russia invaded its western neighbour over two years ago and is on track to spend a further €100 million in the country.

Half of the €80 million already invested was spent on a cement terminal in the Kyiv region that opened last year. The €100 million that has yet to be spent is earmarked for the purchase of the Ukrainian assets of Dykerhoff, a unit of Italian cement group Buzzi. That deal was first announced almost a year ago, but has yet to receive competition approval.

CRH entered Ukraine in 1999 and sees itself benefiting from reconstruction spending in the country in time.

Citigroup staff in Ireland criticise handling of 100 job cuts

The Business Post reports that representatives for staff at Citigroup’s Irish office targeted for lay-off have sent a “letter of complaint” to the group over the handling of the process.

Some 100 people have been made redundant in a process that started in March when the company said that as many as 168 jobs were at risk as part of a group-wide restructuring.

In the letter, seen by the Business Post, the representatives said they had asked on several occasions for information on the reasons for the redundancies in order to assess the rationale and suggest alternatives. They claim they have not received the information.

A spokeswoman for the bank said it is satisfied that the consultation process was carried out “in a meaningful way, in line with our statutory obligations”, the report added.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times