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India's Wipro to create 500 new U.K. jobs

As it expands globally, outsourcing company hopes to add local expertise to its U.K. work force in 2007.

Indian outsourcing giant Wipro is expanding its operations in the United Kingdom, creating 500 new jobs in the process.

Wipro revealed its expansion plans during Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown's visit to India last week. The company already has a 2,000-strong U.K. work force and plans to increase the head count by 500 in 2007 at its existing facilities in Reading and new sites in lower-cost parts of the United Kingdom, including Birmingham.

Kees Ten Nijenhuis, a European senior vice president at Wipro, told Silicon.com that as the company starts offering higher-value services to U.K. customers, it needs more local experience.

All of the major Indian players are trying to position themselves as less Indian and more global.

"We are looking for centers that would be cheaper than Reading and near a university," he said. "We are starting with 100 to 200 and (plan to) scale up to 500. We will send them to India for several months to become fully trained in our methods and processes. We are becoming bigger and more global."

Ten Nijenhuis denied that the increased local labor costs, especially when compared to those of Indian counterparts, would hit profit margins and force the company to increase its prices. "If one U.K. worker can create work for 10 Indian workers, we believe we can do it on a neutral basis," he said.

All of the top Indian IT companies are expanding their Western operations as they try to become true multinational corporations. Tata Consultancy Services has more than 3,000 workers in the United Kingdom, and Infosys last year embarked on a drive to recruit U.K. graduates as the company expands its European operations. Infosys has 60,000 employees worldwide, with 1,500 based in the United Kingdom.

"All of the major Indian players are trying to position themselves as less Indian and more global," said Mark Kobayashi-Hillary, author of Outsourcing to India. "They want a level playing field where they can compete with the established global companies.

"That's a positive thing for all of us," he said. "It means if you work in the IT industry here, you are just as likely to work for an Indian company."

Andy McCue of Silicon.com reported from London.