By Mack Wilowski, International Business Writer
Google has recently confirmed plans to open a new headquarters in London, a move that would create up to 3,000 jobs and strengthen Britain’s technology sector. Amidst uncertainty for Britain’s business prospects following June’s Brexit referendum, Google’s plans to expand its influence in the country have increased the confidence of skeptics and financial experts on the country’s economic prospects.
The new headquarters will be constructed in the King’s Cross section of London and would offer employment to thousands of engineers. In an interview with Reuters, Google’s Chief Executive Sundar Pinchai stated that computer science and engineering have great future prospects in London and Britain. Pinchai described Great Britain as a place with a restless passion for innovation and an innate drive to further their education. For these reasons, Pinchai has stood by his decision for the investment in the country, involving the construction of a new headquarters and the opening of thousands of job positions.
Upon completion, the new headquarters in King’s Cross will likely be over ten stories high and will increase Google’s total workforce in the United Kingdom to about 7,500 employees, up from the present amount of 5,700. Additional job openings are expected to be filled over the next five years, ultimately attracting another two thousand engineers and workers to join Google’s ranks.
Although Pinchai had not been questioned about the cost of such an expansion, development experts calculate the total expenses attributed to both construction and employment to exceed one billion pounds, or $1.25 billion at current exchange rates. British Finance Minister Phillip Hammond praised Google’s new initiative, and stated that leading global firms are still choosing to invest in Britain despite the uncertainty contributed by the Brexit vote. Pinchai, who assumed the position of Chief Executive Officer at Google in 2015, is optimistic about Britain’s future and praises its connected economy and friendly business environment.
Google will continue to occupy its current London office, which houses 2,500 employees, however the location of the new headquarters will be near London’s theater district and railway station, and will be easier to access for both visitors and workers. In contrast to its previous projects, the London headquarters will be the first to be directly constructed and owned by Google, and will serve as the company’s first international headquarters outside the United States.
One concern for the new project deals with Google’s tax affairs in the United Kingdom, which could turn out to be problematic towards construction if they are not settled in the meantime. In January of this year, Google agreed towards a £130 million payment to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, a department of the U.K. government responsible for the collection of taxes, similar to the Internal Revenue Service. Google has continued to insist that its presence in the United Kingdom is minimal to ensure a lower tax payment, although its current plans will dramatically change this.
Despite small setbacks, Google’s executive department is very optimistic regarding its potential opportunities in London. At the conclusion of his interview, CEO Pinchai stated: “We understand there is uncertainty and even concerns about topics like Brexit and the pace of technological change in our lifetimes, but we know for certain that internet and digital technology will be an engine of growth for the U.K. in the years to come.” Through its most recent investment project, Pinchai and the executive team at Google will seek to strengthen the city’s reputation as a global leader in technology.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 22nd print edition.
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