Option Wireless loses €15m

OPERATING losses at the Irish arm of wireless technology manufacturer Option Wireless increased 12-fold to €15.75 million in 2009 as the firm’s revenues halved.

Accounts just filed by Option Wireless Ltd to the Companies Registration Office show that revenues fell 50% from €234.7m to €115.8m to the end of December 2009.

The pre-tax loss of more than €15m in 2009 marks a severe turnaround in the company’s fortunes, following pre-tax profits of €16.9m in 2007.

Only in December 2008, the Belgian parent company had announced the addition of 145 new high quality production jobs at its Cork plant over the next three years.

However, the plunge in revenues in 2009 resulted in Option Wireless putting in place a restructuring programme with the loss of 150 of the 295 jobs at the firm.

The cost of funding the redundancy programme came to €4m and contributed to the pre-tax losses in 2009.

The figures show that during the same accounting period for 2009, in which the company announced the 150 redundancies, it paid a €29m dividend to its Belgian parent.

The Cork-based firm was not available for comment yesterday, but a company spokesman, commenting on the 2008 results last November, confirmed that the numbers employed by the firm had since dropped to 40.

The spokesman said the company had taken “the unfortunate steps” to reduce the number of employees “in order to survive”. He said: “There are no further plans for restructuring.”

According to the directors’ report: “2009 was a very difficult year for the company. Chinese competition from Huawei and ZTE continued to increase, resulting in a further decline of selling prices and profit margins on USB devices.

“Option continued to invest and focus on its US presence. This has yielded positive returns in 2009 as the revenue from the US market increased to become a substantial part of Option’s overall revenues.

“Going forward, the company’s intention is to continue to invest in its US presence and partnerships.”

The report adds: “Global operations headquarters will remain in Cork.”

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