GLOBAL TECH GIANTS SPREAD FROM GOOGLETOWN TO 'AMAZONVILLE' - The dominance of Dublin's Silicon Docks as the location of choice for global and homegrown tech companies looks set to be challenged following decisions by Amazon and WeWork to rent a total of 322,000 sq ft (29,914 sq m) of office space in two new developments on Charlemont Street. 

The Irish Independent says that both the McGarrell Reilly Group's development at Charlemont Square and the Marlet Property Group's Charlemont Exchange scheme will be leased in their entirety by the US-headquartered companies. In the case of Charlemont Square, it is understood the online retail giant has agreed to pay McGarrell Reilly, which is headed up developer Sean Reilly, a rent of €55 per square foot for all 200,000 sq ft of the office space being delivered as part of the wider Charlemont Street Regeneration Project. The €85m mixed-use scheme is being delivered by the McGarrell Reilly Group as part of a partnership it entered into with Dublin City Council. Phase one of the project saw the delivery last September of 79 social housing units along with a range of community facilities. A further 184 private residential are due to be completed on the site, bringing the total number of new homes to 263. Work on Amazon's Charlemont Square offices are scheduled to commence later this year.

***

VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT TO COST VIEWERS UP TO €20 A MONTH - Irish viewers will no longer be able to access Uefa Champions League football free to air on a Wednesday night following Virgin Media’s decision to broadcast these games on its new pay TV channel, Virgin Media Sports. 

Non-Virgin Media customers will also have to pay up to €20 a month to access the sports channel, which will show the 300-plus Champions League and Europa League games that will not be available free to air. This is all part of Virgin Media’s strategy to boost its television subscriber base and pinch customers from rivals Sky, Eir and Vodafone, says the Irish Times. According to its latest filings, Virgin Media had 273,800 TV subscribers in the State at the end of March, thought to be about half the number of Sky, which does not publish subscriber data for the Irish market. Virgin Media’s network is currently available to just under 900,000 homes here, about half of the country’s housing stock. In May, Virgin Media announced it had won the rights to show 327 Uefa club football games in Ireland exclusively for the next three seasons. It has since announced plans to rebrand TV3 and its sister stations under the Virgin Media name, along with the launch of its sports channel. 

***
CO GALWAY DRIVERLESS CAR TECH FIRM BACK IN THE BLACK - The Tuam firm at the cutting edge of driverless car technology returned to profit in 2016 to record pre-tax profits of €6.6m. According to accounts just filed by Connacht Electronic Ltd trading as Valeo Vision Systems Ltd, the company returned to the black after its pre-tax loss of €26.5m in 2015. The company recorded the return to profit in spite of revenues dipping slightly to €297.8m. Valeo purchased Connacht Electronic in 2007 and the business has expanded at a tremendous rate under the French owners as the Galway company was targeting revenues of €37m in the year of sale, says the Irish Examiner. Workers at the French-owned firm are engaged in testing the latest technologies for intuitive driving. Job numbers at the Co Galway-based Valeo Vision Systems have been increasing at a rapid rate as it ramps up its research and development spend. The company increased staff count from 942 to 1,081 in 2016 and the directors say it plans to further expand its facility to facilitate the extra people. The firm’s spend on research and development in 2016 increased by 44% to €39m.

***
PRESIDENTS CLUB TRUSTEES CENSURED BY REGULATOR AFTER FUNDRAISER SCANDAL - Britain's charity regulator has condemned the actions of the three trustees behind the charity responsible for the Presidents Club fundraiser, where women were sexually harassed. 

The FT revealed in an undercover investigation that a number of women working at the charity’s annual fundraising dinner in January had been groped and propositioned by some of those on the exclusively male guest list, which included business tycoons, politicians and celebrities. The regulator launched its investigation days after the FT's Presidents Club report, following an announcement by the charity that it would close down. The Charity Commission found serious failings by the three trustees - businessmen David Meller, Bruce Ritchie and Harvey Soning. The probe targeted three areas: whether the trustees complied with their legal duty to act with reasonable care and skill; whether they managed charity resources responsibly or exposed it to undue reputational risk; and whether they acted in the charity’s best interests. The trustees said they had "never and would never condone the sort of alleged behaviour described in the FT". Helen Stephenson, chief executive of the Charity Commission, said: "The allegations made about the event were entirely at odds with what we would expect from any charity when raising funds for such important causes."