Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Nine companies in talks with Invest NI over setting up bases in Northern Ireland

Hopes: Alistair Hamilton
Hopes: Alistair Hamilton

Nine of the overseas companies which attended October's investment conference are considering setting up bases in Northern Ireland.

They are among the first of the potential and current inward investors who attended the two-day conference to show their interest in investing here for the first time or expanding their presence.

Chief executive of Invest NI Alastair Hamilton said the agency is currently in the process of wooing the nine firms and hopes to make investment announcements soon.

"As a direct follow on from the Investment Conference, Invest Northern Ireland is actively engaging with nine companies," he said.

"Meetings have already taken place with four of these companies, with the remainder scheduled between now and Christmas."

Invest NI won't reveal identities of the companies it's talking to due to "commercial sensitivities", but news of the interest will add to the feeling that the conference was a success.

Mr Hamilton's comments come after Invest NI's appearance in front of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Invesment Committee last week on the agency's half-year report.

He said it was the most positive performance in his six years in the post.

In the first six months of its financial year 4,000 jobs were "promoted", up 90% on the same time last year.

Mr Hamilton said not all of these have been made public and more jobs announcements, including those resulting from the investment conference, are expected to be made before the end of the year.

"You'll be seeing some of those projects come to fruition in the next few weeks, probably before Christmas," he told the committee.

On the back of that £388m worth of investment was pledged by companies to Northern Ireland, much of which is the accounted for by Bombardier's investment in its research and development centre.

Assistance of £94m has been offered to firms, the highest in the history of Invest NI. Around £20m of that is accounted for by Bombardier's investment but taking that off it's still 65% above the assistance offered in the same time last year.

One attendee of the investment conference who put his head above the parapet in the question and answer session after Prime Minister David Cameron's speech was Russell Smith.

He said his media and entertainment law firm is keen to invest in Londonderry and, if given the "green light", will employ 75 lawyers there.

Mr Smith said New York-headquarted Smith Dehn has submitted a draft plan for the investment and if "all the pieces come together" it could be months away from signing a deal.

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