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Pinsent Masons advises Flogas Ireland on latest acquisition

Multinational law firm Pinsent Masons has advised Flogas Ireland, a subsidiary of DCC plc, on its entry into Northern Ireland with the acquisition of Budget Energy.

It marks the largest investment that Flogas has made in Ireland into the growth of its energy business and will enable its expansion into the residential and commercial electricity market in Northern Ireland where it has been operating for over 30 years in the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and more recently, the commercial natural gas market.

Budget Energy is one of Northern Ireland’s leading electricity suppliers. In recent years it has contracted with a strong portfolio of local renewable energy generation across solar, wind and anaerobic digestion sources. This renewable generation will be a key contributor to Flogas’s sustainability strategy. Budget Energy, which trades as BE Energy in the Republic of Ireland (ROI) has over 90,000 customers.

Commenting on the deal, Andrew Kerr said, “A deep rooted understanding of Ireland’s highly competitive energy retail sector and increasing regulatory demands enabled us to successfully bring this transaction into fruition. This is an extremely significant acquisition for Flogas and is closely aligned with its long term strategy to become one of Ireland’s leading all-island energy suppliers.”

Pinsent Masons advised Flogas on all aspects of the acquisition and was led by Andrew Kerr and Lisa Early with support from Danielle McKeefry, Dorian Rees, Laura McCrea and Craig Patterson.

The deal marks another important milestone in Pinsent Masons’ long standing relationship with DCC plc. Last year, the firm advised DCC Vital in its sale of Kent Pharmaceuticals.

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Facebook to add 1,000 jobs in Ireland in 2019

Facebook is to hire an additional 1,000 people in Ireland over the course of 2019. The extra roles will be created across 60 teams, including the social media giants’ engineering, safety, legal, policy, marketing and sales teams.

The roles will based on its Ballsbridge campus which was previously home to AIB.

The expansion will bring the total number of people employed across its centres in Cork, Dublin and Meath to 5,000.

The announcement was made in Dublin today by the company’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, while she attended Facebook’s Gather event in Croke Park.

More than 500 small and medium businesses from Ireland and across the EMEA region attended the event.

Speaking on one of Facebook’s priorities in 2019 to earn users’ trust, Ms Sandberg said: “Facebook is a very different company to what it was in 2016 or even a year ago”.

She detailed the steps the company has taken, and will be taking, in key priority areas including “the safety and security of Facebook’s users; the commitment to cracking down on fake accounts and false news; strengthening defences against election interference; and being even more transparent in how it operates and makes decisions, to make itself more publicly accountable”.

Meanwhile, Head of Facebook Ireland, Gareth Lambe, admitted today that the company is concerned about the current housing crisis gripping the country.

However, he says it is not something which has stunted Facebook’s growth, and insists he has faith in how the government is tackling the problem.

“We’re concerned, of course; to date, it hasn’t been a blocker for us hiring, we have over 4,000 people here in Ireland and announcing another 1,000 today is a big investment,” he said.

POP OUT We support all the government’s initiatives, we think they’re doing all the right things around planning, reform and cost benchmarking and all the infrastructure reform that we’re doing.

“We think that will release this glut in a few years, we see it being not as bad in a few years,” he said.

It was also announced today that Facebook would triple its investment in online safety programmes run by the National Anti-Bullying Centre (ABC) and SpunOut.ie, bringing the total investment to €1m.

The funding will go towards research and an online training program for teachers and parents of secondary school students.

An online safety resource for teenagers will also be created in partnership with SpunOut.ie.

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Baker McKenzie law firm to create 150 jobs in Belfast

GLOBAL law firm Baker McKenzie is to create 150 new jobs in Belfast as part of major expansion plans.

The legal company, who first opened in the city back in 2014, has entered into an agreement with Belfast Harbour Commissioners to take additional office space in the City Quays development. The deal will see Baker McKenzie lease a floor in City Quays 2, a move which will see staff numbers in Northern Ireland grow from just under 300 to 450.

The expansion also allows the legal firm to develop and grow the services it currently provides in Belfast.

Baker McKenzie was the first tenant to move to grade A office space within City Quays 1 in June 2015, but is now nearing capacity in its existing premises.

Since setting up in late 2014 the Belfast office, one of 77 around the world, has grown rapidly and now provides over 30 legal and business services, including finance, corporate support, marketing and IT.

Executive director at Baker McKenzie, James Richards said the expansion underlines the firm’s commitment to Belfast and Northern Ireland.

“The growth of our Belfast office has been a remarkable success story which would not have been possible without the exceptional pool of talent here from both legal and business backgrounds, which has allowed us to create highly skilled and specialised opportunities in Northern Ireland.”

“Our lawyers and professional staff around the globe have been really impressed at what we have created in Belfast and we have become a major innovation hub for the firm. We have introduced a number of initiatives here that are not only benefitting our clients but have a direct impact on our financial performance,” he added.

Belfast Harbour CEO, Joe O’Neill believes Baker McKenzie’s expansion in the city is testament to the offering provided in the City Quays development.

“Cementing our relationship even further with Baker McKenzie and facilitating their ability to grow is something which makes us very proud,” he said.

“City Quays 2 is Belfast Harbour’s response to ongoing demand by inward investors and indigenous firms for new Grade A office space in Belfast. The development has already established itself as the preferred destination for local and international business leaders and Baker McKenzie’s decision to expand into City Quays 2 is a clear testament to the quality of the space provided, its location for business and the infrastructure around it.”