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E-mail: Barry Sobey (+353) 21 453 5355 Mary Duggan (+353) 21 453 5584
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CSO statistical release, , 11am

Outward Foreign Affiliates Statistics


Turnover and number of persons engaged in Irish-owned foreign affiliates, 2013 - 2015
 Turnover (€millions)% Number of persons engaged%
 201312014120152015 201312014120152015
United States51,11054,84858,25134.6 157,708172,383167,80121.7
United Kingdom40,29636,71743,99326.1 91,47794,402102,96013.3
Other countries62,06959,81166,03439.2 479,332474,338503,09165.0
All countries153,475151,376168,278100.0 728,517741,123773,852100.0
1 Outward Foreign Affiliates Statistics were revised for 2013 and 2014

United States and United Kingdom dominate turnover in Irish multinationals abroad

Figure 1 Turnover in Irish-owned foreign affiliates, 2015
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In 2015, Irish multinationals abroad had turnover in excess of €168bn, with US and UK affiliates accounting for almost 61% of this. There were nearly 774,000 persons employed in Irish multinationals abroad, 35% of whom were in the US and the UK.

Comparing 2015 to 2014, the turnover in Irish affiliates in the UK increased by 19.8% while employment increased by 8,558 or 9.1%. While there was a drop in employment in Irish affiliates in the US by nearly 4,600 or a  2.7% decrease, turnover increased by 6.2%. There was also an increase in both employment and turnover in Irish multinationals in countries other than the US and the UK. See Figures 1 & 2 and Headline table.

Outward Foreign Affiliates Statistics (OFATS) cover the activities of Irish multinationals abroad. The purpose of the survey is to allow analysis of the sectoral and geographical composition of the affiliates controlled by Irish multinationals. Care should be taken when analysing the Outward Foreign Affiliates Statistics as the register of Irish multinationals abroad can be subject to significant change in the short term.

An enterprise is deemed to be Irish owned if over 50% of its controlling interest is in Ireland. The population of foreign affiliates is subject to fluctuation based on international market conditions and the buying and selling of affiliates by Irish multinationals. Any enterprise that redomiciles their controlling operations to Ireland will have a bearing on the results, provided the above criteria are satisfied, as it would from that point be considered an Irish enterprise.

Please click the following link to access details of the methodology used: Compiling Outward Forward Foreign Affiliates (PDF 224KB)  

In terms of employment in Irish multinationals abroad by continent, Europe, Asia and America each have just under a third of the total, with employment in the remaining regions amounting to a little over 2%. See Figure 3.

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Persons engaged

Figure 3: Employment in Irish affiliates abroad

Employment in Irish affiliates abroad

Several other countries with significant contribution to employment and turnover

Aside from the UK and the US, a number of other countries had a significant contribution to turnover and employment in 2015 with employment of over 20,000 in China, Germany, Mexico and France. In terms of turnover, affiliates in Germany, the Netherlands and France all generated over €4 billion while there are a number of countries that generated over €1 billion in turnover.

The remaining countries had over 333,000 persons engaged or 43.0% of the total. These countries, which are largely in Africa and Asia, produced over €35.6 billion or 21.2% of total turnover. See Figures 4 and 5.


Employment abroad in Irish multinationals dominated by Services

Services, which includes Distribution,  was the dominant sector for employment in Irish affiliates abroad in 2015 with 79.1% of total persons engaged, while  Manufacturing affiliates accounted for 20.2% of total foreign affiliate employment. Other Industrial and Construction sectors employed 0.6% and 0.1% respectively. There is a similar picture when looking at turnover, where 74% of turnover generated is in Services and 23.2% in Manufacturing. See Figures 6 & 7.

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Persons engaged
Other industrial0.6

Largest turnover generated in Professional, Scientific and Technical activities by Irish affiliates abroad

When looking at the sectoral composition of turnover generated by Irish affiliates abroad, the Professional, Scientific and Technical sector held the largest share with 34.2% of the overall figure, followed by Manufacturing and Distribution with just over 23% each. The rest of the sectoral activities together accounted for less than 20% of total turnover. See Figure 8.

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Other industrial2.3

* Adjustments made to Other Industrial and Construction categories Sept 2017

Information and Communication6.8
Financial and Insurance activities5.8
Professional, Scientific and Technical activities34.2

European multinational employment outside EU dominated by UK, France and Germany

The number of persons engaged in Irish-owned foreign affiliates outside the EU was over 154,000 in 2014. This represented 1.1% of the 14.4 million persons employed by European multinationals outside the EU. The largest contributors to this employment were French-owned foreign affiliates at 24.7%, British-owned foreign affiliates at 20.8%  and German-owned foreign affiliates at 19.9%.  See Figure 9.

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% Employment

Irish multinational employment outside EU split between Manufacturing and Services

In terms of the sectoral breakdown of employment in European-owned foreign affiliates outside the EU, multinationals from France and the United Kingdom had over 60% of their employment in the Services sector, higher than the EU average of 54.8%.  By contrast, German and Italian multinationals had a greater emphasis on Manufacturing than the EU average.  Employment in Irish-owned foreign affiliates outside the EU was split between Manufacturing at 49.6% and Services at 49%, with the remaining employment in the Construction or Other Industrial sectors.   See Figure 10.


Irish multinational turnover outside EU dominated by Services

Looking at the figures for Irish owned multi-nationals outside the EU, it can be seen that the Services sector generated 61.0% of all turnover while 38.1% of turnover came from Manufacturing. Irish and German owned multinationals each  had over  the EU average of 49.4% of their turnover from Services, with Italy generating significantly more turnover from Manufacturing than the EU average.  See Figure 11.


Revisions to previous years

As a result of the ongoing development of the survey and register of Irish multinationals new information becomes available every year. Consequently, revisions were made to Outward Foreign Affiliates Statistics for previous years. These particular revisions are quite large and mainly relate to significant enterprises being redomiciled to Ireland.

Total employment in Irish-owned foreign affiliates in 2014 was revised upwards from 307,999 persons to 741,123 persons and turnover from €99.3 billion to €151.4 billion. For reference year 2013 the revisions resulted in an increase in turnover from €102 billion to €153.5 billion and total employment increased from 305,570 persons to 728,517 persons. Similar revisions took place for reference years 2010-2012.  Sectoral and country breakdowns were also amended.

All Outward Foreign Affiliates data can be accessed on the CSO Databank Service 

Table 1 Persons engaged in Irish-owned foreign affiliates by sector, 2010 - 20151
Other industrial21,2353,0702,3954,7154,2874,515
All sectors718,404694,582687,876728,517741,123773,852
1 Outward Foreign Affiliates Statistics were revised for 2010 to 2014
Table 2 Turnover in Irish-owned foreign affiliates by sector, 2010 - 20151
Other industrial3,1493,2583,3423,5853,5473,915
All sectors134,772129,365131,199153,475151,376168,278
1 Outward Foreign Affiliates Statistics were revised for 2010 to 2014

Background Notes

Outward Foreign Affiliates Statistics (OFATS)

Target population

The target population for outward FATS comprises all foreign-based affiliates that are controlled by an institutional unit resident in the compiling country. The units that complete the CSO Outward FATS survey are resident institutional units i.e. Irish multinationals.  The Outward FATS survey requires the CSO to survey domestic-based Irish multinationals and request information about their foreign-based affiliates.

Data source

The CSO carry out a survey to capture the outward FATS information.  On the survey form respondents are required to complete a list of foreign affiliates that are under the control of the Irish multinational.

The required variables for each foreign affiliate are as follows:

•             Name of foreign affiliate

•             Country in which foreign affiliate is located

•             Description of the activity of the foreign affiliate (which is coded to NACE Rev. 2 activity codes)                         

•             Shares in registered capital of foreign affiliate (only a shareholding of 51% or greater in a foreign affiliate is taken for compilation purposes).  

•             Turnover

•             Number of persons engaged


Main Concepts and Definitions

1.  Institutional unit

An institutional unit is an elementary economic decision-making centre characterised by uniformity of behaviour and decision-making autonomy in the exercise of its principal function.  A unit is regarded as constituting an institutional unit if it has decision-making autonomy in respect of its principal function and keeps a complete set of accounts.

2.  Foreign Affiliate

A foreign affiliate is enterprise not resident in the compiling country over which an institutional unit resident in the compiling country has control (Outward FATS).

3.  Control

The concept of control is used for the breakdown of the FATS variables.  Control means the ability to determine the general policy of an enterprise by choosing appropriate directors, if necessary.  In this context, enterprise A is deemed to be controlled by an institutional unit B when B controls, whether directly or indirectly, more than half of the shareholders’ voting power or more than half of the shares.

Indirect control means that an institutional unit may have control through another affiliate which has control over enterprise A. 

Therefore, control implies the ability to determine the strategy of an enterprise, to guide its activities and to appoint a majority of directors.  In most cases, this ability can be exercised by a single investor holding a majority (more than 50 %) of the voting power or of the shares, directly or indirectly.

4.  Ultimate controlling institution (UCI)

The ultimate controlling institution (UCI) of a foreign affiliate is an institutional unit, proceeding up a foreign affiliate’s chain of control, which is not controlled by another institutional unit.  FATS data are compiled according to the UCI concept.  The crucial characteristic of a UCI is that it should effectively control and manage the group, i.e. take global strategic decisions.

Therefore, in the case of Ireland, Outward FATS describes the activities of affiliates abroad where the UCI is an Irish resident institutional unit. 

5.  Residency

The place of residency of an UCI is the country of registration of the UCI in the case of legal entities and the country of residence in the case of natural persons acting as UCI.  Residency is often but not always the nationality of the UCI.

Geographical Breakdown

The Outward FATS variables are broken down by the resident country of the foreign affiliates.  These countries have been amalgamated into geographical aggregates which are listed separately.

Activity Breakdown

The NACE Rev. 2 sectors covered by the Outward FATS data are as follows:

A - Agriculture, forestry and fishing

B - Mining and quarrying

C - Manufacturing

D - Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply

E - Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities

F - Construction

G - Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles

H - Transportation and storage

I - Accommodation and food service activities

J - Information and communication

K - Financial and insurance activities

L - Real estate activities

M - Professional, scientific and technical activities

N - Administrative and support service activities

P - Education

Q - Human health and social work activities

R - Arts, entertainment and recreation

S - Other service activities

Please click the following link to access details of the methodology used:

 Compiling Outward Forward Foreign Affiliates (PDF 224KB)

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