IBM has opened a business analytics centre in London to focus on services for the UK's financial sector, which drives a major portion of the nation's economy.

IBM said the centre's initial focus will be on tracking risk positions across markets and assets classes. The centre, opened located at IBM's South Bank offices, will employ 400, although IBM said that number could double as demand for analytics services increases.

The centre will eventually provide services for energy and utility industries as they move into smart metering and grid technologies, IBM said. Other areas it will serve in the future include the public sector, for transportation and public safety programs, as well as pharmaceutical firms working on new drug development.

The centre will work with IBM's Hursley software laboratory in Winchester, England. IBM said the centre will also be using technology from IBM acquisitions such as the business intelligence company Cognos, iLog and SPSS.

The London centre is one of several that IBM has opened this year. Since June, the company has opened analytics centres in Berlin, Tokyo, New York, Washington. and Bangalore. The company expects to hire or retrain employees for some 4,000 analytics consultant positions in those centres.

In April, IBM said it would restructure its Global Business Services and create a Business Analytics and Optimisation services practice, using the company's mathematicians and analytics experts from its research division.