Portugal renews bid to lure post-Brexit investment from UK
Portugal’s government this week launched the latest in a series of bids to attract investment from UK companies, with Economy Minister Manuel Caldeira Cabral visiting London to take advantage of the uncertainty created by Brexit.
“We take the view that there is great potential of companies that may be interested in expanding their business in Portugal,” Cabral told Lusa News Agency on his arrival in London on Wednesday, where he began his visit with a lunch at Portugal’s embassy with entrepreneurs in the area of near-shoring (outsourcing of processes to a nearby country) and shared services.
The minister’s delegation included representatives of four Portuguese companies – GFI Portugal, Novabase GTE, Axians Portugal and SIBS Internacional – as well as a member of the recently created temporary mission set up to attract investment in Portugal by companies keen to retain a foothold in the EU after the UK’s departure.
Finance Minister Mário Centeno, and the Secretary of State for Industry João Vasconcelos, have both already visited London this year with the aim of attracting UK companies or multinationals with a presence there.
“We’re obviously viewing Brexit like everyone in Europe, with some apprehension and attention, but also looking at the opportunities that might open of companies that, since they want to remain within the European Union space, are now seeking alternative sites to locate part of their activities, Cabral said.
The minister’s visit is to include visits to start-up incubators Level 39 and Plexal, and a dinner with representatives of venture capital firms.
According to Cabral, at a meeting with UK companies in the embassy in Lisbon, those invited “showed a lot of interest in knowing more about Portugal as an investment destination.”
Portugal, according to the minister, has the advantage of being in the same time zone as London, as well as having a younger generation that is fluent in English and many of whom have qualifications in finance, technology and engineering, and is competitive in terms of property prices and the cost of living.
The government wants not only to attract start-ups but also companies that might want to establish operations in Portugal in the field of shared services: not only call centres but also financial and accounting services, personnel and client management, or some engineering development services.
He cited Blip and Euronext as two companies that had already made the leap. The former is an internet and mobile software company founded in Porto but since taken over by a UK company, and which last year opened a new headquarters with 300 employees, while the latter is a platform for the stock exchanges of Lisbon, Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels, that in March inaugurated a new premises in Porto for its systems development and information security departments, both formerly based in Belfast, with the local workforce set to swell to 140 from the current 50.