Tuesday 25 July 2017

Intel eyes $4bn investment as it awaits crucial council decision

Intel will learn the decision on its planned extension. Photo: Bloomberg
Intel will learn the decision on its planned extension. Photo: Bloomberg
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The Irish arm of chip giant Intel is set to find out today if it has been successful in securing planning permission for a revised plan that would ensure it's in a position to bid for a $4bn (€3.6bn) investment from head office.

The project - if it goes ahead - would involve 3,000 construction jobs and result in the addition of about 850 full-time jobs at Leixlip in Co Kildare, according to Intel.

Intel applied for planning permission to Kildare County Council last November for what was effectively a revamp of planning permission it secured in 2013.

The council notes that a decision on the latest application is due today, after Intel submitted additional information back in March.

The latest planning application saw the group reduce the overall size of the planned chip site by 50pc, but it would still be a mammoth 85,000 sq m (915,000 sq ft).

"Intel Ireland continues to enable the site for potential development," the company told the council, noting back in November that the standard manufacturing design has evolved to such an extent that a revised plan was needed.

"The planning application is part of a strategic initiative by the Intel Ireland site to ensure that the designated campus is optimised and is in a competitively-placed position to compete for next generation investment within the Intel corporation when major future capital investment decisions are being considered," planners for Intel noted.

"It is a prudent measure for Intel to have flexible options available to allow them to be responsive," they added. "The revised design captures improvements in knowledge and technology."

The Intel site at Leixlip occupies about 146 hectares. It currently has three chip manufacturing sites at the campus, the first of which opened in 1990.

It's one of the largest manufacturing sites in Ireland, and currently employs about 4,500 full-time staff, as well as a large number of contractors.

Cumulative investment at the Intel site in Co Kildare has so far reached just under €12bn.

The planned expansion of the site would include a new main, three-storey fabrication facility as well as other buildings.

The project has been backed by locals including former Labour TD Emmet Stagg, but opposed by others.

Last year, Intel announced that it was laying off 12,000 jobs around the world. Those layoffs included jobs lost at Leixlip. The company had refused to say how many of its staff in Ireland were being let go, but it was estimated that up to 400 contractors and full-time staff with the group here had been targeted under the plan.

Intel made the job cuts as it sought to tackle declining global demand for desktop computers, and refocuses its business on cloud and other sectors.

Intel has chip-manufacturing facilities in Ireland, the United States and Israel. They vie with each other for investment from head office.

Last month, Intel announced that it was restarting a project to invest $7bn to finish a chip facility in Arizona. It originally announced the plans in 2011, but the project was put on hold.

Last week, Intel reported record first quarter revenue of $14.8bn (€13.5bn), an 8pc year-on-year increase, and operating income of $3.6bn (€3.3bn), which was 40pc higher year-on-year.

Irish Independent

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