Online payments firm PayPal expanding in Ireland

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By SHAWN POGATCHNIK, Associated Press

DUBLIN (AP) — Online payments company PayPal announced Tuesday it is expanding its operations in jobs-hungry Ireland in a government-sponsored deal praised by Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny.

PayPal, a division of the internet auction company eBay Inc., already employs about 1,500 people in the Dublin suburb of Blanchardstown. The company said its new site in the border town of Dundalk will hire 1,000 more over the coming four years.

Since the late 1980s Ireland has wooed about 600 American high-tech companies to Ireland, including social media giants Google, Facebook and Twitter. PayPal's new investment is receiving a confidential level of aid from the government's foreign investment recruitment agency, the IDA.

At a joint Dublin press conference with PayPal executives, Kenny said the San Jose, California-based company's decision represents "a clear recognition of the opportunities that Ireland offers global leaders like PayPal."

Kenny's year-old government is hoping that multinational companies based in Ireland will lead the country to economic recovery. Multinationals provide just 5 percent of jobs but generate nearly 20 percent of gross domestic product in Ireland, a country that exports four-fifths of its goods and services, chiefly to Britain and the United States.

Irish unemployment stands near a two-decade high approaching 15 percent, emigration is rising for the first time since the early 1990s, and the government's own ability to stimulate domestic demand is extremely limited by austerity demands tied to its 2010 bailout by the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Online auction site eBay acquired PayPal in 2002. A year later PayPal opened its European base in Blanchardstown with just 25 employees. Today's site manages 42 million PayPal accounts in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Worldwide, the company allows customers to send and receive payments on the Internet in more than two dozen currencies.

Louise Phelan, vice president of global operations for PayPal in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said the company hoped to have at least 200 Dundalk positions filled by July in customer support, sales, finance and compliance.

Phelan said she was "very proud to support Irish job creation" and credited IDA support as instrumental. She said PayPal was aiming "to help people pay for things anytime, anywhere and on any type of electronic device."

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