Facebook 'likes' Britain's talent, to add jobs despite Brexit
By Sarah Young
LONDON (Reuters) - Facebook (FB.O: Quote) said it would expand its presence in Britain by 50 percent in 2017, joining other U.S. technology firms in increasing investment despite the uncertainty sparked by the country's vote to leave the European Union.
The social network firm said it would hire 500 new staff, adding to the 1,000 people it already employs in Britain, as Facebook gears up to open a new UK headquarters in London next year, following other firms drawn by talent and a thriving tech start-up scene.
Before the Brexit referendum in June, campaigners in favor of remaining in the EU had warned that international companies could seek to reduce their presence in Britain as a withdrawal from the bloc would make it a less attractive place to invest.
Some big banks such as Goldman Sachs (GS.N: Quote) and Citi (C.N: Quote), which employ many thousands in London's financial center, are said to be considering shifting some jobs elsewhere in Europe as a result of Brexit, a worry for the British economy where financial services account for around 10 percent of output and provide some of the best paying jobs.
Facebook's UK expansion comes after Google (GOOGL.O: Quote), owned by parent company Alphabet Inc, said earlier in November that it would invest an estimated 1 billion pounds, and make 3,000 new hires in the Britain.
"The UK is definitely one of the very best places to be a technology company," Facebook vice-president of Europe, Middle East and Africa Nicola Mendelsohn said at a conference run by the CBI, an employers group, adding that it was too early to say what Brexit would mean for the movement of labor.
"The movement of talent is something...that matters to us." she said, adding that Facebook employs people of 65 different nationalities in Britain.
Facebook opened its first engineering office outside the U.S. in London in 2012 and has been growing rapidly in the UK since. Its main UK operating unit's staffing increased by 90 percent in 2015 from 2014, according to its latest accounts, with more than half of those hired engineers. Continued...