A&O to lay off US and Euro support staff as 43 jobs move to Belfast

Allen & Overy (A&O) is set to make up to 43 back office redundancies across its New York and European offices, as the firm prepares to transfer support roles from its international network to its Belfast support services centre.

The move will affect support services staff in A&O’s New York, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, Frankfurt, Luxembourg, Milan, Paris and Rome offices, who will be offered relocation or redundancy.

The move has come as a result of a new deal struck with regional business development body Invest Northern Ireland (NI), which has provided A&O with financial support of £348,400 to create 67 new roles in Belfast. In 2011 it emerged that A&O was to receive £2.5m of Invest NI funding in return for creating 300 new jobs in Belfast.

The new support roles in Belfast will bring the office’s headcount to around 350. The firm is offering relocation packages for staff willing to move, with the intention of minimising job losses. No fee earning roles will be affected.

The firm is also planning to recruit an additional 24 candidates in Belfast with relevant language skills and technical qualifications.

The Belfast office, which launched in autumn 2011, provides a mixture of core support service processes, such as elements of finance, IT, business services and marketing.

The Invest NI funds will go toward growing the office over the next three years. The firm had previously outlined plans to grow the office to 300 by 2014 – a target that has been reached ahead of schedule.

Managing partner Wim Dejonghe said: “We launched our Belfast office about eighteen months ago and, with the support services centre fully operational and successfully delivering the quality service and cost savings we anticipated, it makes sense for us to look at where we can streamline our processes in other parts of the business, building on the economies of scale that Belfast provides us.

“Each of our European and US offices has undertaken a review of its local support services. Today’s announcement follows the completion of those reviews. We understand that these changes will be difficult for those of our staff in each location who are affected, and we are committed to supporting them and treating them fairly.

“But with low economic growth across many developed markets, we must ensure we are operating in a way that will deliver the cost efficiencies our clients expect of us, so that we protect the long term competitiveness of our business.”

Last April the firm launched a conflicts checking unit in Belfast, which involved a new eight-person business acceptance unit supporting an existing team in London checking for conflicts at the point of instruction.