300 jobs for Belfast as city sees off rival bids to land IT financial services deal
Belfast has overcome stiff competition from Singapore, Manila and Kuala Lumpur to land a major deal that will bring 300 well-paid jobs to the city.
London financial services firm Tullett Prebon, which has 24 international bases, has already started recruiting, with all 300 posts for its new Belfast IT centre expected to be filled by 2018.
It is believed the move will bring a £9.9m boost to the local economy, with staff earning an average salary of £33,000.
Welcoming the news, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: "Any day where you can announce 300 highly-paid jobs is a good one. But the future is obviously what I'm concerned about - that we can continue with that sort of success.
"The big (thing) that overhangs everything that we do at the moment is the whole issue of uncertainty, particularly around the whole issue of Brexit.
"We are dealing with a British Government that's trying to work out what its objective is going to be, and we are dealing with a European Union that is waiting to see what objectives the British Government is hoping to achieve, so that could last for several years.
"As the word 'uncertainty' overhangs us, I'm concerned that it inhibits our ability to be full steam ahead in attracting foreign direct investors.
Andrew Webb, from Webb Advisory, added that the Republic seemed to be gaining more from the uncertainty around Europe than Northern Ireland.
"They have secured 115 projects and nearly 10,000 jobs since the start of the year, and seem on course to gain further from Brexit uncertainty," he explained.
However, Luke Barnett, Tullett Prebon's chief operational officer, refused to be drawn on whether the EU referendum had cast any doubt upon the decision to set up a base here.
He said the firm hoped to continue its growth in the next few years, and added that Northern Ireland's skillbase helped the region fend off competition from Singapore and Manila.
The company has already begun the recruitment process for business analysts, software development engineers and project and quality assurance managers.
First Minister Arlene Foster said: "We have a very strong reputation across the world now in the financial technology sector, with companies coming here to Northern Ireland for all of the right reasons."
"I think it's the raw talent (which draws firms here). It's our young people, who are very talented, and the structures around that as well - the colleges, the universities and of course the Government departments all working in a flexible way so that when someone comes and says, 'I need so many IT professionals qualified in this sector', we can accommodate that.
"There's been a lot of talk around the consequences of Brexit but, actually, the reality has been a little different.
"There are challenges - and I'm not saying there aren't - but there are a lot of opportunities out there as well.
"What we need to be doing is talking up Northern Ireland and how we can help it to grow in a higher market place.
"We competed against places including Singapore, Manila and Kuala Lumpur to secure this investment.
"I think this sends out a very strong message of confidence about what we can do here in Northern Ireland. People should not talk this region down, but instead should talk it up."
Yesterday, Tullett Prebon said a fall in the value of sterling after Britain voted to leave the EU would have a positive impact on reported revenue.
The company was offered more than £2m in support from Invest NI as part of the deal, which had been in the pipeline for around a year.
The economic boost that the new jobs, for which the firm is already recruiting, are expected to generate for the Northern Ireland economy