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New Delhi, Sept 8

IT company HCL today said that it would create 600 jobs in a major expansion of its Armagh and Belfast contact centre operations in the UK.

The British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, who is currently visiting India, made this announcement during the launch of the 2006 UK Trade and Investment India Business Awards at New Delhi, in the presence of Mr Shiv Nadar, CEO and Chairman of HCL Technologies.

Referring to a number of positive developments involving economic links between India and the UK, Mr Blair highlighted the strategic importance of the UK for Asian companies seeking a springboard for developing business within the enlarged European Union.

Commenting on the development, the Secretary of State in Northern Ireland, UK, Mr Peter Hain said, "It is a credit to the quality of our workforce that Northern Ireland continues to be an attractive location for outsourced services, in the face of stiff competition from lower waged economies. This expansion, supported by Invest Northern Ireland, will create at least 400 new jobs in Armagh with the balance at either of the two locations depending on operational requirements."

HCL Technologies currently employs about 2,350 employees in the UK (2,000 of which are UK nationals), making it the largest Indian IT employer of local staff and is among the top 10 private sector employers in Northern Ireland.

With the latest expansion plans in place, HCL's manpower strength would touch 3,000 in the next one-year.

"While India is an integral part of the solution we offer our clients, far from taking jobs out of the UK, we are actually creating hundreds of new positions while investing in the UK economy. It is a model that is unique in our industry.

"But it is one, I believe, that others will have to try to replicate sooner rather than later if they are to make the most of the global opportunities that now exist in offshore business process outsourcing and the IT-led services business," Mr Nadar said in a statement.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 9, 2005)
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