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Belfast centre buyout: HCL in pricing talks with BT

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Mr Barry Gardiner (right), Minister for Economy and Education, Northern Ireland, and Mr N.Ranjith, Chief Operating Officer, HCL BPO, at a press conference in Chennai on Wednesday. - - Shaju John.

Chennai , Nov. 3

HCL BPO, the business process outsourcing arm of HCL Technologies, plans to make its contact centre at Belfast, Northern Ireland a hub for European operations. HCL recently added 250 employees at the Belfast centre and plans to add another 400 jobs there, according to company officials.

HCL will acquire before the end of this year British Telecom's (BT) 10 per cent stake in the Belfast centre, after which it will become fully owned by HCL. Discussions with BT are on over the price, according to Mr N. Ranjit, Chief Operating Officer, HCL Technologies BPO Services Ltd.

The Belfast centre was set up by BT, in which HCL bought a 90 per cent stake in December 2001. The agreement then specified that HCL would buy BT's residual 10 per cent stake at the end of three years, company officials said.

Mr Ranjit said revenues from the Belfast centre would grow from 16 million (about Rs 132 crore) for the year ended June 30, 2004 to about 20 million (about Rs 166 crore) for this year.

HCL BPO's revenues are expected to increase from $55 million (about Rs 250 crore) to $100 million (Rs 455 crore) this year.

He said that the Belfast centre has a multi-lingual capability and provided services in six European languages. The wage cost in Belfast is 15 per cent lower than in the rest of the UK, and 30 per cent lower than in countries such as Belgium and Holland.

Mr Barry Gardiner, Minister for Economy and Education, Northern Ireland, who is leading a delegation to seek investments in Northern Ireland, held a meeting with HCL BPO officials in Chennai on Wednesday.

Mr Gardiner said he had met the Madras University Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Thyagarajan, and impressed upon him the need to expand relations between Madras University and universities in Northern Ireland

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