Google commits to £1bn UK investment plan
Google is to open a new headquarters building in London which could see 3,000 new jobs created by 2020.
The news comes as a major boost to Britain’s technology sector.
Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google, told the BBC that the UK was still an attractive place to do business.
He said open borders and free movement for skilled migrants were “absolutely” important to the success of the technology sector in the UK.
It was Mr Pichai’s first European broadcast interview since he became chief executive last year.
Sources at the technology company also said if barriers were thrown up to skilled immigration following the vote to leave the European Union, some of Google’s investment could be at risk.
Turning to the “fake news” controversy in America – and choosing his words very carefully – Mr Pichai said that, at the margin, false stories about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton could have affected the outcome of the US election as the margins were “very narrow”.
And that it was important that companies like Google and other social media businesses promoted “accurate” stories to their billions of users.
Although Google refused to be drawn on the cost of the UK investment, development experts said the new building in King’s Cross and the cost of employing thousands more staff was likely to put the figure at over £1bn.
At present, Google employs around 4,000 people in the UK, a figure that could now rise to 7,000.
The office space owned by Google in King’s Cross will more than double.
“The UK has been a tremendous market for us,” Mr Pichai told me.
“We see big opportunities here. This is a big commitment from us – we have some of the best talent in the world in the UK and to be able to build great products from here sets us up well for the long term.”
The new 650,000 sq-ft headquarters has been designed by Thomas Heatherwick, the designer behind the “garden bridge” across the Thames.
He was brought in by Google after its founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, rejected initial designs for a new headquarters as “too boring” in 2013. Danish architects Bjarke Ingels Group are also involved in the project.
Many companies raised fears before the referendum that if Britain voted to leave the European Union, foreign investment would be affected.
Questions were raised over whether Google would commit to the new building.
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“Google is to open a new headquarters building in London which could see 3,000 new jobs created by 2020.”