By Stephen McKinley
Omagh is to get 150 new high-tech jobs over the next three years as one of the world’s top CD-R producers prepares to move in with the single largest inward investment in the town since the August l998 bomb atrocity.
Ritek of Taiwan announced yesterday it was setting up a company, Rixell Ltd., to manufacture optical storage discs for the European market.
Also, Omagh received a second economic boost in less than a week on Monday when a complex of new office and workspace units was officially opened in the town.
Northern Ireland trade minister Sir Reg Empey said: “It’s a vote of confidence in the new political arrangements, the people of Omagh and Northern Ireland.”
The investment is worth _27.7 million sterling.
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Ritek, which was founded in l988, employs 4,000 people worldwide and already has a majority shareholding in a west Belfast firm, Multimedia Info Tech.
Come clean, says Labor
The Labor Party in Ireland has called for Allied Irish Banks to make known to the Dail details of the report in the Rusnak currency trading scandal that lost the bank $750 million from its Baltimore subsidiary, Allfirst.
The call came as AIB officials continued to discuss the findings of investigator Eugene Ludwig into what amounts to a five-year long fraud.
“What executives did or did not know about the rogue trading at an AIB subsidiary is obviously a source of concern,” said Ludwig, who flew into Dublin Monday to deliver his report.
There was speculation that AIB’s U.S. division chief, Frank Bramble, would be sacked, along with Allfirst boss Susan Keating.
Rusnak has denied any crime, and has reportedly refused to cooperate with the investigation. Observers say that if the report is particularly damning, he could face criminal charges and up to 30 years in prison.
Big biz in Derry
St. Patrick is big business in Derry this year, after the local council decided to put on a special weekend of events in the city.
Brian Kennedy will take the stage at Guildhall Square on March 27.
“It is a fantastic coup for the city to attract such a popular musician for the celebrations,” Mayor Mildred Garfield said. “We anticipate the event to attract huge numbers of people from all over the northwest and it promises to be a great occasion for all the family. I am delighted to see so many organizations from throughout the city contributing to the celebrations.”
“Other activities planned over the St. Patrick’s weekend include the annual Irish language festival, “Guth an Earraigh, organized by Conradh na G’ilge,” said Nuala McGee, festivals officer with the city council.
Good news from Baltimore Technologies, which has struggled during the tech downturn.
The Internet security company announced a euro 3.4 million contract yesterday, with BBS, a Norwegian intra-banking service.
Davy Stockbrokers have forecast revenues of about euro 20 million over the next two quarters for Baltimore, and, according to the brokers, the deal would guarantee nearly 20 percent of that forecast.
Cell phone advance
The Irish firm Alatto Technologies has announced that its latest tech development will allow cell phone users to send and receive multimedia electronic greetings cards that will flash, beep, whistle and make cell phones even more annoying than simply ringing in crowded movie theaters, churches, press conferences or restaurants.
The wireless firm has introduced Zipcards — a library of greeting cards that take advantage of multimedia messaging service standards, which are available on next-generation handsets.
Zipcards can be sent from handset to handset, from internet sites to handsets or as e-mails between users. You can get them in Spanish and French as well – can’t wait.
Lagan Technologies, one of Northern Ireland’s premier indigenous software companies, plans to double its workforce to 120 over the next two years, following the completion of an equity funding round led by venture capital firm Crescent Capital.
Lagan’s clients include Ulster Bank, Guernsey Telecom and Birmingham City Council.
“Lagan is one of Northern Ireland’s premier indigenous software companies and in leading this latest funding round we were impressed by its proven ability to compete successfully with some of the world’s biggest corporations,” said Crescent Capital investment manager Aidan Langan.
The managing director of Lagan Technologies, Des Speed, said the investment package would enable the company to exploit new opportunities.
Two of the four most senior posts in Northern Ireland’s new economic development agency will be filled by women, it emerged yesterday.
The head of Northern Ireland’s largest business organization is leaving the post after eight years for a two-days-a-week _20,000 role chairing a postal watchdog body.
Iona office abroad
Iona technologies has announced that it has opened an office in Singapore, its ninth office in the Asia-Pacific region.
The e-business platform provider said that it will attack the Singaporean, Malaysian, and other Asian markets.
“End-to-Anywhere integration requires a tightly architected, non-proprietary platform, plus a set of services that are adaptable to an organization’s strategic requirements,” said Mike Verretto, vice president Asia-Pacific at Iona.
“Our customers and those of our partners share integration challenges with critical business implications-challenges involving an array of mainframe-, Microsoft-, J2EE- and CORBA-based applications.”