* Facebook to hire 500 new staff in Britain
* VP says UK needs to work to keep tech hub status
(Adds further VP comments, background)
By Sarah Young
LONDON, Nov 21 Facebook 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
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
Before the Brexit referendum in June, campaigners in favour
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 and Citi,
which employ many thousands in London's financial centre, 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, 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 labour.
"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.
It also employs hundreds of sales and marketing staff who
tend to focus on larger clients or running regional teams,
according to Facebook job ads and linkedIN profiles of staff.
Amazon, which created 3,500 UK jobs in 2016 at its
head office, research and development centres, customer service
centres and distribution depots, plans a further 2,300 jobs at
three new distribution centres in 2017.
Such investments have helped Britain's tech sector to shine
at a time when some other firms are less optimistic.
A recent survey showed that three out of four companies with
sales between 100 million pounds and 1 billion pounds have
considered moving operations to the European continent in the
wake of the vote.
Mendelsohn said that Britain needed to work hard to keep its
position as a global hub for technology.
"We need to make sure that we continue to look outwards and
not inwards; we need to stay competitive, and we need to remain
a welcome home to tech," she said.
London ranked no.1 for start-ups in the 2016 European
Digital City Index, and Google said the talent pool, educational
institutions, and passion for innovation helped it decide to
invest more in Britain, sentiments echoed by Mendelsohn.
"It's a place that our engineers want to come and work at,
it's a place that we see this amazing ecosystem, not of just
tech companies but also of creative companies coming together
inspiring, fuelling one another," she said.
Facebook has a complex corporate structure for tax purposes
and declared Dublin as its European headquarters which means
almost no taxable profits are reported in the UK. It also has
significant historic tax losses on its books, which means any
cut in corporation tax would have little impact on its finances.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May is reported to be considering
cutting corporation tax from the 20 percent headline rate in a
move to attract companies away from other parts of the EU to
(Additional reporting by Tom Bergin; Editing by Kate Holton and