Hedge fund firm promises 325 new tech jobs
By STEVE PROCTOR Business Editor
Wed. Feb 27 - 5:07 AM
The province’s effort to make Halifax an important centre for information technology and financial services companies got a significant boost Tuesday.
Citco, one of the world’s largest hedge fund companies, announced Tuesday it will consolidate a large proportion of its technology development operation in Halifax, promising to create 325 new jobs over the next six years.
"Halifax has been on our radar screen since we opened our financial services office there in 2006," Ben Jansen, the company’s president of technology management, said in a telephone interview from New York. "There is a can-do attitude in the city and, with the universities, that seems to fit with our corporate style."
The new positions will range from technical support to software and application development. The work will support Citco’s international operations that have been served through centres in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and India "that are coming to the end of their life cycle," said Mr. Jansen.
The province, through its business development arm Nova Scotia Business Inc., is helping the new operation find its feet by offering a payroll rebate of up to $7 million over six years. The rebate will be invested incrementally as the company achieves hiring targets. The Economic Development Department has also committed $1.47 million to support startup costs and training.
It is the second offer of financial support to the company. In 2006, Citco’s financial services side was offered $7 million in payroll rebates to create 350 jobs over seven years.
"Citco has been a great champion of the province and Halifax on an international scale," said Premier Rodney MacDonald, who rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday to celebrate the province’s recent successes in the international financial services sector.
"We are excited to see a company of this calibre choosing Nova Scotia for yet another investment, this time through an IT expansion. It will complement Citco’s already impressive financial services growth in our province."
Citco is approaching its one-year anniversary in Halifax and is on track to meet hiring targets, said Mr. Jansen. He said the new IT staff operation will share office quarters with the financial side of the business for at least a year or so, but after that, growth will likely necessitate that the company look for new or expanded quarters.
The announcement comes just a day after call centre operator Teletech Holdings said it was laying off all 485 workers at its Bayers Lake operation because one of its clients wanted to move its contract from the city.
Mr. MacDonald said the local economy needs all kinds of jobs, but the Citco jobs show the province’s IT and financial services sector hub is growing and will continue to attract other businesses.
The premier said he expected to speak with more than 100 business leaders during events and receptions Tuesday in New York designed to tell Nova Scotia’s business story.
"Ringing the (stock market) bell is a signal Nova Scotia is on the move and open for business."
Stephen Lund, head of Nova Scotia Business Inc., said Citco’s second expansion reinforces the province’s strength as a destination of choice for IT.
"Nova Scotia offers companies competitive, high-value critical development in a location closer to key markets and global headquarters."
Mr. Lund said he’s been meeting with the who’s who of the business elite in New York for the past two days and has been getting an enthusiastic response, especially from companies that are finding their offshore efforts in India and elsewhere across the world are not as easy to manage as initially expected.
There are still lots of companies who don’t know where Nova Scotia is, he said, but when they are told players like Citco and Research In Motion have a growing presence, their interest is piqued.
"If we can get people to come to Nova Scotia and kick tires, they almost always stay," he said.
A study the Greater Halifax Partnership produced last year identified Halifax as having the country’s second-highest concentration of financial services sector workers after Toronto.