22 November 2010

China’s ZJF buys Irish POF transceiver maker Firecomms

In what is said to be the first ever technology acquisition of an Irish high-tech firm by a Chinese corporation, Zhejiang-based ZJF Group has acquired Firecomms Ltd of Cork, Ireland, a manufacturer of transceivers (including its OptoLock technology, licensed worldwide) for consumer plastic optical fiber (POF).

Spun from Ireland’s Tyndall National Institute in 2001, Firecomms develops high-speed optical components that drive fiber-optic networks in home, industrial and automotive applications. Established in 1994, ZJF is an integrated POF system and solutions provider with more than 3000 staff that sells to more than 100 countries, and has supply partnerships worldwide for illumination products with large retailers such as Walmart, Target and B&Q.

The deal guarantees €5m investment in R&D, together with the expansion of Firecomms’ engineering team from 18 to 30 people over the next 12 months, as well as facilitating the rapid expansion of Firecomms' operations in mainland China.

“For some time now, mainland China has been our largest market,” says Firecomms’ CEO Declan O’Mahoney. “As the ZJF Group is a major global player in this sector, today's 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 adds.

Firecomms’ shareholders included Atlantic Bridge, ACT Venture Capital, Swisscom Ventures, Alps Electric and Enterprise Ireland. “We are very pleased with this outcome, which positions Firecomms for continued growth and success in the world’s largest market,” says Brian Long, managing partner at Atlantic Bridge, and member of Firecomms’ board of directors.

“Our acquisition of Firecomms is driven by the recent decision by various provincial governments to classify plastic optical fiber as a major construction focus across China,” notes ZJF’s chairman Xuping Zheng. “Delivering this infrastructure with copper cables would result in over 1 million tons of CO2 emissions for China, and would be impossible to implement as the demand for copper would far outweigh the world's supply. China is already the largest manufacturer of plastic optical fiber and we are combining those huge resources with Firecomms’ leading technology,” he adds.

“This increased investment in R&D, coupled with access to the broad resources of the ZJF Group, will be hugely advantageous for our customers,” believes O’Mahoney. “In addition to giving us the ability to offer complete integrated networking solutions to our customers, the investment and access to a fast-growing marketplace will result in rapid development of POF solutions, and reduced costs for this reliable, easy-to-use technology,” he says.

“The acquisition of Firecomms by the ZJF Group demonstrates the global appeal of the Irish high-tech sector,” states Ireland's Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Batt O’Keeffe TD. “Ireland’s enterprise base is now well diversified and our economic recovery is anchored in continued strong export growth and a thriving foreign direct investment sector,” he adds.

“A recent study showed that foreign direct investment is generating more jobs per capita in Ireland than any other country,” according to Barry O’Leary, CEO of inward investment promotion agency IDA Ireland. “IDA’s published strategy Horizon 2020 calls for an increase in investments from new high-growth markets. This pioneering technology deal is a perfect example of why Ireland is increasingly recognized as a global innovation hub,” he adds.

Tags: Firecomms POF transceivers

Visit: www.firecomms.com

Visit: www.zjfgroup.com

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