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HP keeps HQ in Geneva

HP, the company created by the merger of Hewlett-Packard and Compaq, is to keep its European base in Geneva.

This content was published on August 20, 2002 - 11:20

The 450 staff employed there can breathe a sigh of relief. But the decision is a blow for Zurich.

The American IT multinational said the decision to keep Geneva as its headquarters for Europe, the Middle East and Africa was based on a "series of parameters".

In a statement, HP said Geneva offered good resources and a favourable legal framework. The company, which set up its European base there in 1959, also had a well-established infrastructure in the canton.

Tax concessions

It is not clear if the company won any tax concessions from the local authorities in return for keeping its headquarters in canton.

The merger of Hewlett-Packard and Compaq three months ago left a question mark hanging over the offices in the Geneva suburb of Meyrin, especially after the announcement of 143 redundancies at the end of last month.

HP was known to be studying the possibility of transferring its European seat to either Munich or Zurich, where Compaq had its European headquarters. Despite Meyrin getting the nod, the Zurich office, which employs 130 people, will be retained.

Persuasion

HP's decision is also good news for the cantonal authorities, which have deployed considerable resources to persuade the company to remain in the canton.

"Keeping HP in Geneva was an absolute priority for us. It was one of the first multinationals to establish itself here. We've had a dozen people working on this dossier for a year," said Jean-Charles Magnin, of the cantonal economy department.

In 1998, the canton suffered a huge blow when Digital, which had just been bought out by Compaq, decided to close its European headquarters in Geneva, with the loss of over 300 jobs.

An exodus on a similar scale would have been disastrous, given the canton's avowed intention to become a hub of the information technology sector.

"This decision is of huge symbolic importance," Magnin said.

by Roy Probert

HP facts

HP said Geneva offered good resources and a favourable legal framework.
The company had considered moving its European headquarters to Zurich or Munich.
It is not clear whether Geneva offered HP any tax breaks.

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