September 13, 2013 / 10:30 AM / in 5 years

AirBnB picks Ireland for European headquarters

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Fast-growing online holiday-rental service AirBnB is to set up its European headquarters in Ireland, joining other U.S. technology companies Google and Apple, which take advantage of the country’s low corporate tax rate.

Europe is the largest market for AirBnB’s web site, which lists anything from furnished homes to spare couches, some for hundreds of dollars a night.

Chief executive Brian Chesky said in a blog post that the company would set up its European headquarters in Dublin because it was an emerging technology hub and had a tradition of hospitality.

“Dublin is known the world over for its warm welcome. The city has a reputation for being one of the most hospitable and friendliest places in the world,” Chesky said.

Ireland is one of several European Union member states facing scrutiny from the EU’s competition authority, which on Thursday said it was looking into corporate tax arrangements in several countries including Ireland.

This follows revelations about the tax-planning practices of big international companies, such as Apple and Google, that allow them to pay minimal tax rates.

AirBnB has become one of the Silicon Valley’s most successful start-ups in the five years since it was founded by a trio of graduates from the Rhode Island School of Design and Harvard.

But it has come up against authorities in cities like New York and San Francisco that levy taxes on - or prohibit outright - short-term rentals, raising questions about how it will navigate local regulations as it continues to grow.

Irish state broadcaster RTE said AirBnB might hire up to 100 people in Dublin. The company did not respond to questions about how many people would be hired.

Reporting by Conor Humphries. Editing by Jane Merriman

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