India's HCL to add 600 staff in Northern Ireland

HCL Technologies Ltd., a software and business process outsourcing (BPO) services company in Noida near Delhi, India, announced Thursday that it's adding 600 staff at its Armagh and Belfast call centers in Northern Ireland.

The announcement by HCL of its proposed expansion was made during a visit to India by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other U.K. officials. At an event in Delhi, while referring to HCL's expansion plans, Blair said that the U.K. was a strategic location for Asian companies that are seeking a springboard for developing business within the European Union.

HCL currently employs about 2,000 local staffers at these two locations in Northern Ireland, with about 1,750 staffers in Belfast and 250 in Armagh. The company has a total of about 2,350 employees in the U.K., of which 2,000 are U.K. nationals.

In 2001, HCL acquired 90% of the equity in the Apollo Contact Center, operated by BT Group PLC, to offer services from the center to London-based BT and other clients. By December 2004, the company acquired the 10% balance of the equity held by BT.

Earlier this year, HCL also acquired the Armagh-based AnswerCall Direct Contact Center from AnswerCall Direct Ltd., which had about 190 staffers.

Far from taking jobs out of the U.K., HCL is actually creating hundreds of new positions while investing in the U.K. economy, said Shiv Nadar, CEO and chairman of HCL.

HCL's European headquarters is London-based and run by HCL Great Britain, which employs around 350 people. Approximately 25% of the company's global IT, BPO and infrastructure business is contributed by the European business and driven from its London base.

For the 12-month period that ended June 30, HCL Technologies and its subsidiaries had revenue of $764 million and employed 24,000 people. Most of the employees were based in India, where the company has large software services and BPO operations.

HCL Technologies will continue to invest in the U.K. to leverage its advantages as competitive location for its global delivery centers, and as a gateway to Europe, the company said in a statement Thursday.

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