Facebook rejects Brexit doom-mongers to boost UK workforce by 50 per cent

The US social media juggernaut says the United Kingdom is still one of the best places for tech firms despite the country's decision to split from the European Union

Facebook is undeterred by Brexit and plans to increase its workforce in London. Dado Ruvic / Reuters
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Facebook said it will expand its UK presence by 50 per cent next year, joining its US technology peer Google in boosting investment in Britain despite the uncertainty sparked by the vote to leave the European Union.

The social network firm said it will hire 500 new staff, adding to the 1,000 people it already employs in Britain, as it gears up to open a new headquarters in London next year.

Before the Brexit referendum in June, pro-Remain campaigners had warned that international companies could seek to reduce their presence in the United Kingdom as withdrawing from the EU would make it a less attractive place to invest.

But Facebook said on Monday that was not the case.

“The UK remains one of the best places to be a tech company and is an important part of Facebook’s story,” according to its Europe, Middle East and Africa vice-president Nicola Mendelsohn.

Facebook agreed in September last year to take offices on a former Royal Mail site near Tottenham Court Road in central London.

The company will take on all of the 21,000 square metres of office space at One Rathbone Square, a new development by Great Portland Estates (GPE) on a site sold by Royal Mail in 2011. The sale had been criticised because the price paid for the prime site was £120 million (Dh543.6m) and the project has been forecast to generate a profit of almost £100m.

Under the deal Facebook will pay an initial rent of £16.9m a year to occupy the building after getting the first 30 months of its tenancy rent-free. Staff are expected to move in after the building’s completion in February and Facebook has signed up for 15 years without a break clause.

The company arrived in London in 2007, and the UK is now home to its largest engineering base outside of the United States.

Facebook said many of its new jobs would be in the high-skilled engineering sector.

The hiring announcement extends a recent string of similar promises made by major US tech companies regarding their plans in the UK.

Last week Google cemented plans that it would expand in Britain, saying it will go-ahead with plans to complete a new London office that can hold as many as 7,000 workers – 3,000 more than a spokesman said it currently employs in the UK.

Apple said in September it is leasing about 46,451 sq m of office space at Battersea Power Station on the south bank of London’s River Thames.

Britain is also benefiting from the growth of the online retailer Amazon, which expects to create 3,500 UK jobs this year, including at its head office, research and development centres, customer service centres and distribution depots.

It plans a further 2,300 at three new distribution centres in 2017.

* Agencies


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