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American firm out to prove PH remains undisputed BPO magnet

Despite the uncertainty hounding the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, US-based firm Ibex has invested around $13.5 million to expand its operations in the Philippines, making the country host to its largest workforce globally.

The company has in the past few months opened three new sites, which have the capacity to hire an additional 4,500 BPO workers. This would put its total Philippine workforce to 10,000 by year-end.

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Angel Alvarez, senior vice president and country head of Ibex Philippines, told reporters this figure could breach 12,000 by the first half of next year as the company would hire more people.

Top officials flew in from the United States for the inauguration of its new site in Alabang. Its two other new sites are in Bohol—with Ibex being the first mover in this market—and in Cubao. Although operations already began earlier this year,  the two other sites would be inaugurated at a later time.

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In a press briefing Wednesday, Ibex Global chief executive Bob Dechant said a 500-seater site would cost about $2.5 million. The company’s expansion plans—totaling 2,700 seats or 4,500 people taking shifts—would cost about $13.5 million, officials said.

By the end of this year, the Philippines will account for half of its global workforce, as the company remains confident in Filipinos who see BPO work as a viable career choice as opposed to just a temporary job.

“People in the United States don’t want to be in the call center. Here, people in the call center industry grow up and become country heads,” Dechant said.

An example is Alvarez himself, who began working in the industry back in 2003 as a technical support representative and then climbed the ranks until he became country head for Ibex Philippines.

The firm’s bullishness comes at a time when the once reigning labor king is wading through unchartered waters as the Duterte administration imposed a ban on new economic zones in the metro and pushed to rationalize the tax incentives.

“Coming here is not a price play. It will outperform the United States. It will outperform other markets,” said Dechant.

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TAGS: Angel Alvarez, Bob Dechant, Business process outsourcing (BPO), Ibex
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