Chinese takeover of hi-tech firm

A CORK company has been acquired in a deal that sees it being the first Irish hi-tech firm to betaken over by a Chinese corporation.

The acquisition by the ZJF Group of manufacturing firm Firecomms will also see the creation of 12 jobs in the next year. The deal guarantees €5 million investment in research and development and will also help the expansion of Firecomms’ operations in mainland China.

Cork-based Firecomms, which was spun from the Tyndall Institute in 2001 is involved in plastic manufacturing. The company said they would not disclose the value of the deal for commercial reasons.

Firecomms CEO Declan O’Mahoney said, for some time now, mainland China has been the company’s largest market.

“As the ZJF Group is a major global player in this sector, [this] announcement not only allows us to guarantee investment capital and job growth for the future, it also provides us with access to the world’s largest marketplace for our technology,” he said.

Enterprise Minister Batt O’Keeffe said the deal demonstrates the global appeal of the Irish hi-tech sector. According to the IDA, foreign direct investment is generating more jobs per capita in Ireland than any other country.

Chairman of the ZJF Group Xuping Zheng said: “Our acquisition of Firecomms is driven by the recent decision by various provincial governments to classify Plastic Optical Fibre as a major construction focus across China. China is the largest manufacturer of Plastic Optical Fibre and we are combining those huge resources with Firecomms’ leading technology.”

Barry O’Leary, IDA Ireland, said this deal is a “perfect example of why Ireland is increasingly recognised as a global innovation hub”.

Firecomms Shareholders include Atlantic Bridge, ACT Venture Capital, Swisscom Ventures, Alps Electric and Enterprise Ireland. Managing partner at Atlantic Bridge Brian Long said they are pleased with this outcome, which positions Firecomms for “continued growth and success in the world’s largest market”.

Firecomms develops high-speed optical components that drive fibre optic networks in home, industrial and automotive applications.

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