Northern Ireland

NI investment conference: US firm 'saved over a billion dollars'

Suren Gupta
Image caption Suren Gupta told delegates Northern Ireland was "one of the best places to do business"

International investors have been told that a US firm "saved over a billion dollars" due to its decision to locate in Northern Ireland 15 years ago.

Suren Gupta, from the insurance firm Allstate, revealed the figure at a major investment conference in Belfast.

Delegates were addressed by a number of high-profile foreign investors who spoke about their experiences of doing business in Northern Ireland.

Organisers of the two-day event hope it will help to attract new investors.

Business executives from the US, France, China, Japan and Canada are attending the conference at Titanic Belfast.

This is a flavour of what they have been hearing.

Suren Gupta - Allstate, technology and operations executive vice president

"As a result of us being here over the last 15 years we have saved the company more than a billion dollars."

He said Northern Ireland was Allstate's second biggest base outside the US and had become its "second home".

The company employs about 2,200 people across three sites in Northern Ireland, with many staff in software developing and testing roles.

Mr Gupta said they had found the "talent pool truly outstanding" and said Northern Ireland was "one of the best places to do business".

"Every time we open our doors to work every day in Northern Ireland we save half a million dollars, and that is something that we don't take lightly," he told delegates.

Pierre Beaudoin - Bombardier, president and chief executive officer

"I would strongly recommend Northern Ireland as a good place to do business and a good place in which to grow that business."

Mr Beaudoin told delegates Bombardier had 5,000 direct employees and an additional 1,000 support staff working at its aircraft manufacturing base in east Belfast.

He told delegates that his company had bought the former Short Brothers facility in 1989, when Northern Ireland was experiencing "much civil unrest" and said was sure the move had "raised eyebrows" at the time.

However, he said his firm recognised the location's potential and the "strong work ethic" of its people.

Mr Beaudoin told the conference that Bombardier Belfast had "grown to become one of the world's top aerospace design and manufacturing facilities".

"Every time I visit Belfast I feel that we have made the right decision to acquire Shorts ."

Jay Roewe - HBO, senior vice president for West Coast Productions

"The success of HBO's Game of Thrones is in large part due to our presence and the collaboration with the people here in Northern Ireland ."

"The reason I truly believe, and I think that we at HBO think it's successful, is because there's a special relationship with here with the people of Northern Ireland, and in many ways I truly believe I don't think we would have been as successful if we were shooting some place else, so this is a true partnership."

Libby Jackson - Herbert Smith Freehills, Belfast office director

"We were looking for the right location to set up an innovative, high quality, very cost competitive business to develop international legal services.

"We don't practice Northern Ireland law, we were bringing a new stream of legal work here, so the very high quality pool of qualified lawyers and legal assistants here coming out of the universities - an extremely well-educated group - was extremely important to us."

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