THREE multinational giants withoperations in Costa Rica, Procter &Gamble (P&G), Kimberly-Clark and Intel,recently announced plans to expand theirpresence in the country by increasing thefinancial services offered here for offices,subsidiaries and clients in Latin Americaand the Caribbean.P&G is expanding its existing GlobalBusiness Services (GBS) center, whileIntel is opening a new financial servicescenter. The plans will each provide approximately150 new jobs, primarily for recentcollege graduates who have studiedaccounting, bringing the total number ofemployees in Costa Rica for the two firmsto 3,350.Hygenic-supplies company Kimberly-Clark plans to implement new software inAugust, allowing its Costa Rican site tooversee accounts at all its Caribbean operations,human resources director NelsonSibaja told The Tico Times.According to representatives from bothIntel and P&G, the centers represent significantopportunities for Costa Rica interms of regional leadership, and the decisionsto headquarter Latin American financialservices here are the result of CostaRica’s excellence as a business location.“COSTA Rica has great potential toattract more and more high-value companies,”said Alejandra Cobb, P&G’s corporaterelations manager, at a press conferencelast week. She added P&G “has hadsuccess in Costa Rica, success with CostaRicans, success with the government.”The opening of Intel’s center “putsCosta Rica in an interesting position,”Gabriela Llobet, corporate affairs managerfor the company, told The Tico Times onTuesday.“It’s a great opportunity for the countryto continue demonstrating that it can be astrategic place” for foreign companies toinvest and operate, she added.Intel’s Costa Rican center will join thecompany’s other financial center, locatedin Malaysia. P&G has two other GlobalBusiness Services (GBS) centers: one inNewcastle, England, which serves Europe,the Middle East and Africa, and the otherin the Philippines, serving Asia.THE Costa Rican site of P&G is nowthe company’s primary Financial Servicesoffice for the Americas, and will beresponsible not only for collecting data butalso analyzing financial information fromaffiliates throughout Latin America andmaking recommendations.Cobb said a new building to house theexpanded financial center is in the works atthe Forum Business Park west of San Joséin Santa Ana, where the firm’s existingfour buildings are located, although sheadded no estimate is available for theinvestment the new building will require.Bill Merrigan, who has worked withthe company throughout Latin Americaand at the international headquarters in theU.S. state of Ohio, and is the newlyappointed general manager of the GlobalBusiness Services center here, denied thatthe expansion of the center will cause joblosses at P&G’s sites elsewhere. Merriganexplained that the expanded center will bea new service for the company in responseto the increasing complexity of the firm’sfinances, rather than the relocation ofoffices from another country or a consolidationof existing services.P&G “has the responsibility to assureour investors that the financial reports(they receive) are of high quality,” headded.Because the company has more than300 brands worldwide and, in theAmericas alone, gives accounting supportto 140 legal entities, pays 2.5 million billsfor a total of $24 billion per year toproviders, and administers approximately310 bank accounts in 35 banks, centralizedoversight is essential to keep the firm runningsmoothly, Merrigan said.P&G’s product line is composed primarilyof food, personal hygiene andcleaning products – from Tide detergentand Pampers diapers to Pringles potatochips and Folgers coffee.Other services provided from CostaRica include the development of more efficient information systems and financialanalysis.The opening of P&G’s operation herein 1999 did cost jobs elsewhere, Merriganadmitted. He said Procter & Gamble hassaved approximately $100 million in theirfive years of operation here.P&G, founded in 1837 in the UnitedStates, now has operations in 86 countrieswith 98,000 employees and $51.4 billionin annual sales for 2004.HIGH-TECH firm Intel has invested$600 million in its Costa Rican microchipmanufacturingoperations and played a massiverole in the export market since it openedhere in 1998. Intel Costa Rica employs 2,200people and had $1.2 billion in sales in 2004,according to spokesman Arturo Barboza.Llobet said Costa Rica’s proximity tothe United States and its competitive costswere instrumental in the decision to open thecenter, which will be housed in the existingIntel buildings in Belén, Heredia, northwestof San José. The Intel Corporation andemployees of Intel Costa Rica are analyzingplans for the center and will begin theprocess of hiring the additional 100-150employees within the next two months.The new Intel center will be operationalby 2006, according to Llobet.BOTH Llobet and Merrigan said theircompanies’ centers will offer high-qualityjobs.Spoken English ability will not be thetop priority in the hiring process for P&G’sfinancial center employees, Merrigan said.Training and experience in accounting willbe the top concern.He said the company’s existing 850employees have “not only jobs, butcareers,” with the opportunity to gainbusiness experience on an internationallevel. The talent demonstrated by existingemployees was one of the deciding factorsin the move to open the new center, headded. Approximately 90% of P&G’smanagers here are Costa Rican, accordingto a company statement.“The talent of Costa Ricans has beeneven greater than what we expected fiveyears ago,” he said.