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Vodafone to open Ft 9 bln service centre in Hungary

British mobile phone giant Vodafone is set to open a Ft 9 billion ($48.75 million) shared services centre in Budapest, the CEO of the company's Hungarian unit said on Friday.

The centre will employ 700 people by 2009, Beck said in a joint news conference with Hungary's Minister of Economy and Transport János Kóka. Simple business transactions, such as business-to-business billing and accounts payable, would be carried out in the centre, Vodafone said in a statement. The centre will provide services for all of Vodafone's worldwide operations, including human resources. Many international firms, such as IBM and Morgan Stanley, already operate shared services centers in Budapest, and Beck said this expertise as well as the qualified workforce and good infrastructure played a part in the decision. Kóka said that size of the investment was bigger than usual for such a shared service centre, but he refused to reveal how much financial support the government was granting Vodafone. However, he said the deal being cut was 'worth it' for the Hungarian government. He said the contract was still being negotiated and that the details would only be revealed six months after the contract was complete.

Kóka added that the government wanted to double the current number of international service centres - some 40 have been set up since 2004, employing around 14,000 people - to around 80 within the next three years. „We are in talks over 12 services centers, at a total investment of Ft 260 billion ($1.425 billion) and the creation of 5,000 jobs,” Kóka said. The minister claimed to be in discussions with 63 separate investors in total, and said if they all came to fruition Hungary could be looking at foreign direct investment of Ft 1 trillion ($5.481 billion) this year, creating 16,000 new jobs. (