Northern Ireland

Brexit: Swiss firm in NI has 'no concerns' over no-deal Brexit

Wealth management software Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Julius Baer has opened its fifth UK office in Belfast

The first Swiss firm to set up in Belfast has said it has no concerns about Brexit and is looking forward to further expansion in Northern Ireland.

Julius Baer, a wealth management company, said it is confident about the local economy and the level of interest from global firms.

It has set up its fifth UK office, based at Bedford House in Belfast.

David Durlacher, the firm's UK chief executive, said it is committing to Northern Ireland in the long term.

"The economy in Northern Ireland has been of particular interest to us, and that's not just because of its location, it's because there is a dynamic entrepreneurialism that we see at work," said Mr Durlacher.

"It's an entrepreneurialism that's been at work across generations, and we see that, in particular, now.

"The past six months have seen a record number of mergers and acquisitions in Northern Ireland, and that wealth creation and interest from foreign players in the economy of Northern Ireland has seen a lot of wealth being created."

'Long-term view'

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged that the UK will leave the EU on 31 October, with or without a deal.

Mr Johnson wants a new withdrawal deal that removes the backstop (the clause that stops there being physical checks on the Irish border under any circumstances).

But EU negotiators say there is currently no basis for "meaningful discussions" with the UK.

If the UK leaves without a deal, it will cease to have a trade deal with the EU, becoming what is known as a "third country".

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Mr Durlacher said investors were taking advantage of the weakness of sterling and this had also helped the export market in Northern Ireland.

"Clearly these are troubled political times, whether close to home or around the world," he said.

"Seeing how those events transpire helps us make people not only smart with their money, but also smart with their businesses."

He said there was little from a no-deal Brexit which would impact on Julius Baer's commitment to Northern Ireland.

"We take a longer term view. Our company has been in operation for 130 years and we will be in operation for 130 years to come, regardless of what the political landscape looks like in that time," he said.

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