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Bank of Ireland launches hedge fund centre of excellence in Belfast

The Bank of Ireland Group, Ireland's leading financial institution, is to establish a hedge fund centre of excellence in Belfast. The new venture in Northern Ireland will service the rapidly growing offshore alternative investment funds market and specifically, the hedge fund segment, currently growing at 20 per cent per annum.

Invest Northern Ireland has offered support of EUR3 million towards the initiative. The landmark investment will establish Northern Ireland's first funds administration business in the international financial services sector and will create 149 new, high value jobs for experienced accountants and skilled graduates over the next five years.

'The hedge funds centre of excellence will reinforce Northern Ireland's reputation as a premier location for investment whilst playing an integral role in the growth of Bank of Ireland Securities Services offering to its international client base,' says Leslie Morrison, Chief Executive, Invest Northern Ireland. 'This investment is particularly important as it will add value to Northern Ireland's rapidly developing financial services sector, highlight the future growth potential which exists and ensure that the skills of local people are fully utilised for maximum economic benefit/'

Brian Goggin, Group Chief Executive, Bank of Ireland, adds: 'In line with our strategy of expanding our niche skill-based businesses, we are very excited about the prospect of creating a sizeable presence in Belfast servicing the offshore hedge fund industry. Our Securities Services division in Dublin already services a total of USD160bn of assets of which, in excess of USD3.5bn are in hedge funds and we believe there is considerable potential for expansion in this market.

'We currently have a significant presence in Northern Ireland with 44 branches, eight business centres and 1,300 staff across a range of business lines. Our decision to locate in Belfast reflects the quality of professional people available in the marketplace, plus the fact that over 10 per cent of BOISS' 370 strong Dublin-based workforce, already come from Northern Ireland. We also have strong links with the universities in the region as a result of placement programmes', added Brian Goggin.

At the launch event in Belfast, Bank of Ireland also announced a major expansion of its retail banking network in Northern Ireland, which will lead to the opening of a number of new branches and business centres and the recruitment of 100 new staff into the branch network.

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