US financial services firm State Street pulls plug on Belfast operation

State Street had set up its Belfast operation within Glandore's shared office space on Arthur Street
Ryan McAleer

US financial services giant State Street has pulled the plug on its expansion plans for Belfast with the loss of at least 40 jobs.

The Boston-based company, which describes itself as the world’s third largest investment manager, had launched a recruitment drive here last year with a view to setting up a new technology centre in the city.

But it’s understood that the company removed all its equipment from Glandore’s shared office facility on Arthur Street on Thursday.

One source told the Irish News that State Street’s Belfast staff were left shocked by the move, which is understood to be part of wider cost cutting measures by the group that includes its London operations.

State Street said it was undertaking “a collective consultation process” into its UK business, but said the decision was not related to Brexit.

“We remain committed to the UK and maintain a strong presence in both our London and Edinburgh sites,” said a spokesperson.

The company’s 40,000-strong global workforce includes around 2,500 people in the Republic, spread across five locations.

State Street initially made the move to Belfast after long-term negotiation with Invest NI.

The economic support agency confirmed yesterday that while it initially offered the company funding support for the move, none of the money was ever handed over.

“It is Invest NI’s understanding that State Street has made a decision to reduce headcount across a number of locations globally and that this may include the Belfast office," said a spokesperson.

"Invest NI had made an offer of support to the company but none of this had been released.”

State Street’s moves to set up an engineering office in Belfast began in May 2018.

While the company appeared to shy away from announcing its move in the media, its recruitment ads described its plans for “significant expansion into Northern Ireland as part of our new technology location strategy”.

In August it emerged that State Street was examining properties to house a new technology centre in the city.

Commercial property monitor React News reported that the US firm was seeking offices capable of housing at least 100 employees in Belfast.

During August, the financial services company continued with its Northern Ireland recruitment drive, with at least 11 jobs listed on its own website.

It’s understood that many of the posts created in Belfast attracted generous salaries, with some senior staff on six figure sums.

But despite the team growing beyond 40, the company seemingly held back on officially listing its Belfast office on its own website.

In a statement, State Street said: “We are continually reviewing our information technology capabilities to ensure we have the right resources in the right locations to drive excellent client outcomes and innovation as well as to deliver on our commitments to shareholders and stakeholders.

“In line with this, we are currently undertaking a collective consultation process with regard to our operations in Belfast, Northern Ireland.”

The company added: “Today’s moves streamline our IT organization and removes unnecessary layers that get in the way of our overall success.

“With these changes we will ensure our culture of innovation is more readily focused on delivering against our strategic objectives in the near and long term.”

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