Intel boss praises Ireland's 'business friendly climate'

Thursday 27 March 2014 16.24
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Intel says its investment in Ireland is about maintaining a manufacturing base for Europe
Intel says its investment in Ireland is about maintaining a manufacturing base for Europe
Renée James said Ireland had skilled workers and a stable investment environment
Renée James said Ireland had skilled workers and a stable investment environment

The global boss of computer chip maker Intel has played down the importance of the Irish corporation tax rate in the company's decision to upgrade its Leixlip plant, saying its investment here is more about maintaining a manufacturing base for Europe.

Speaking to RTÉ's Science & Technology Correspondent Will Goodbody, Renée James said Intel has been in Ireland for 25 years, so its tenancy here supersedes "any governmental annual changes"

The Intel president said the company believes in having a manufacturing base in the EU, is very confident in its operations here, and so while the business climate in Ireland has been favourable, its decision to continue investing is about a much broader point of view.

Ms James said Intel has a long history here and the decision to put a further $5bn into the plant was down to the very business friendly climate, fabulous employees, skilled workers and stable investment environment.

Ms James also said it was quite a big deal for the Irish team to win the new investment. She said the Irish team had faced a good challenge in winning the competition internally, as it is not always obvious where to put such investments in the beginning.

The Irish team had proven innovative, reliable and had done an outstanding job and the investment was as much about them as the environment in Ireland, Ms James added.

Asked what the recommissioned Fabs would make, Ms James said when Intel upgrades a factory to leading edge technologies, it makes it capable of producing all products from the lowest end tablets and phones to servers, so they could manufacture a variety of processors in the factory, she added.

In relation to the planning permission that Intel holds for a completely new Fab, Ms James said the company won't make those investments until much further into the future.

She said the reconditioned Leixlip plant doesn't come online until next year, and can be upgraded to the next generation of technology. Intel has to make long term decisions because its business is so heavily capital intensive.

Ms James explained that Intel was not pinning all its hopes on producing chips for the wearable sector as it also has big businesses in cloud computing, data centres and PCs.

She rejected claims that Intel had missed the boat on mobile technology, saying it had entered the mobile market and wearables are part of that. She said its communications business is number two and it has also built an entirely new line of products for tablets and phones.

On being one of very few women at the top of large technology companies, she said that situation is changing. She said women shouldn't let their gender be a consideration for the career they might want, and added that she is very encouraged by the changes she sees and she continues to encourage women not to give up.