January 24, 2018 / 4:42 PM / 6 months ago

Google to open tech centre near Lisbon, creating 500 jobs - prime minister

LISBON, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc's Google will open a new support centre for Europe, Middle East and Africa in Portugal this year, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Wednesday.

In televised remarks from Davos, Switzerland, Costa said the decision by the U.S. technology company would mean the creation of 500 tech jobs for highly-skilled Portuguese workers and was an acknowledgment of the country's growing education standards and technological prowess.

"Google will be opening the Europe, Middle East and Africa offices in Lisbon this year, hiring up to 500 of Portugal's best-talent engineers," Costa said.

"We have invested strongly in education, we are highly language-proficient" and have a large pool of skilled engineers, Costa said in a slightly broken English, adding, with a smile, that he was an exception to the rule.

A Google spokesperson would not say how much the company planned to invest in the Lisbon centre, which will be fully dedicated to third party suppliers who support Google's operations.

The centre will open in the town of Oeiras on the outskirts of Lisbon, where various technology companies have their local offices, the Oeiras mayor's office said in a statement.

The economy ministry said that the talks about the new hub had begun during the annual Web Summit in November, hosted by Lisbon for the second year in a row.

The Web Summit has grown into one of the world's largest technology conferences, from 400 participants when it started in Dublin in 2010, to 59,000 participants in November.

Portugal pulled off a coup by bringing the Web Summit to Lisbon in 2016 with the government pinning its hopes on the event to boost funding and other support for technology firms in an economy that is still recovering from a 2011-14 economic and debt crisis. (Reporting By Andrei Khalip. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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