Belfast Telegraph

Bank’s expansion gives Belfast a Titanic boost

Citi’s creation of 500 jobs sparks fresh optimism...

By Claire Weir

A major jobs boost by banking giant Citi in Belfast will act as a catalyst for more major economic announcements for Northern Ireland.

First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness made the pledge as they officially opened American firm Citi’s new offices in the Titanic Quarter yesterday.

The firm, one of the world’s largest banking corporations, has been operating in Belfast since 2004 and its latest expansion will bring its total number of employees in Northern Ireland to more than 1,400.

Citi plans to create 440 roles in its technology and operations divisions and a further 61 specialist posts in its legal and compliance division.

Since the Washington conference in October — convened by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — Dow Chemicals, the Terex Corporation and the New York Stock Exchange have all announced jobs in Northern Ireland.

Bill Mills, chief executive of Europe, Middle East and Africa business for Citi, said that so far, business in Belfast had exceeded all of the company’s expectations.

“This is an overwhelming success story,” he said. “When we first arrived in 2004, we expected to have 375 high-technology, high-specification jobs in place by 2009,” he said.

“The calibre of the candidates we attracted was very high and we filled more roles than we expected, expanding to a current workforce of 950 permanent staff here at the Gateway building.”

Mr Robinson thanked Citi for its commitment to Northern Ireland and said that such success could be replicated in the future.

“As I told people at so many meetings at the investment conference in Washington: ‘If they have the jobs, we have the people’. The primary reason for investing here is the quality of the workforce,” he said.

“Belfast has the best-educated workforce in Europe. Citi has gone from 375 posts to over 900 at present and these are high-end jobs, helping to put Northern Ireland on the global map.

“Washington was a unique opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland to CEOs of some of the world’s biggest and best-known brand names. The investment conference will bear further fruits over the next months and years.

“We offer a competitive cost base, a quality and enthusiastic workforce and Invest NI offers great support against competition from other global locations.”

Mr Robinson added that political stability and devolved government has helped drive a sustainable economy for Northern Ireland.

Mr McGuinness said that while “all is not rosy in the garden” during a worldwide recession, the province is still an attractive base for inward investment.

“This investment will act as a catalyst, it will boost our reputation and I am confident that other companies will follow Citi’s lead,” he said.

Invest NI, Queen’s University and the University of Ulster were all hailed for their role in helping to attract Citi and other big corporations to establish bases in Northern Ireland.

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