China fund buys stake in FieldAware
Published 24/08/2014 | 02:30
Irish technology start-up FieldAware has secured a multi-million cash injection from the Chinese government.
The China Investment Corporation, a sovereign wealth fund with $200bn in reserves, has snapped up a large stake in the Trinity College spin-off.
It is the first time the Chinese government has invested in an Irish technology company. Two more similar deals are due to be announced in the coming weeks.
Unlike their US and British counterparts, Chinese investors have funded relatively little of Ireland's booming tech start-up scene - but this may mark the beginning of a new relationship between the two countries.
The funding was channelled through the China Ireland Technology Growth Capital Fund, which bought 5.2 million shares in FieldAware.
The $100m fund was set up for equity investments in start-up companies with a presence in both Ireland and China. It is financed by the National Pension Reserve Fund as well as the Chinese government.
Several other prominent investors have also poured money into FieldAware in recent months. Many were already investors in the company and were trying to retain or increase their stake, including the state-funded National Digital Research Centre (NDRC), the company's founders, Bill McCabe's Oyster Technology Investments and venture capital firm Atlantic Bridge.
FieldAware has been hailed as one of Ireland's most promising early-stage technology companies.
It develops and sells mobile applications that are used by workers in the field.
The firm, previously known as Glidesys, was founded by Andronikos Nedos and Ray Cunningham, who both completed their postdoctorates at Trinity College Dublin.
Mr Cunningham and Mr Nedos joined the NDRC LaunchPad programme after completing their studies.
FieldAware's development work is based at its headquarters in Dublin, but its larger marketing and sales office is in Chicago. It employs around 160 people.
Looking beyond technology, Chinese investors are also expressing interest in the booming Irish aviation sector.
China's state-owned investment firm Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) last week confirmed it is in talks to buy Dublin-based aircraft lessor Avolon.
China's SMBC Aviation Capita has also joined the bidding war for aircraft assets being sold by Dublin-based jet leasing firm AWAS.
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