Dubliner David McMurtry could relocate some of his €2.5bn precision manufacturing and measuring equipment company Renishaw's European operations to its factory in North Dublin if Britain votes to leave the European Union, he has told the Sunday Independent in an exclusive interview.
Speaking at the Renishaw HQ near Bristol, he said: "If a Brexit happens, we'll just have to deal with it, because we're in France, Germany, Spain, Ireland, Poland and what have you. If we have to pay import duties, we have to pay them.
"But, of course, the sensible thing would be to move some manufacturing for European customers [from Britain] to Dublin, to get around that."
The news emerges after Irish building materials company Grafton Group said last month that it will have a Brexit contingency plan in place, and in light of recent news that a preparatory unit for it has been established at the Department of the Taoiseach.
Renishaw recently bought two buildings adjacent to its current factory in Swords, where it employs 200 people. Although some of the space is required already after expanding from 70 employees, they have been earmarked to cater for further expansion.
Employing 4,000 staff in 32 countries (about 2,500 of whom are in the UK), the firm currently has 15 offices and factories in the UK and is establishing one of the largest 3D printing centres in the world near Birmingham as it aims to take a lead in the emerging technology in areas such as healthcare and aerospace.
McMurtry founded the business with a colleague from Rolls Royce in England, where he designed jet engines and was a problem-solver on the engine of the legendary supersonic Concorde aircraft.
In its 42nd consecutive year of growth, Renishaw has expanded at a colossal rate over the past few years. While it took 32 years to achieve annual sales of €215m, its sales rocketed by that amount in the past year alone, largely thanks to supplying precision measuring, probing and manufacturing equipment to firms in China and South Korea to which Apple and Samsung contract out the manufacturing of their phones, it is understood.
Next month, it is expected to announce sales of about €700m and profits of about €200m for the past year.
McMurtry owns a 36pc stake in the firm, from which he has received fees and dividends of about €70m since 2009, while control of the 17pc stake belonging to his co-founder John Deer gives him effective control of the company.
The 75-year-old Clontarf native became a dollar billionaire after the FTSE 250-listed company's shares rallied recently, while our recent Sunday Independent Rich List estimates his wealth at €860m.
Although the Irishman is our greatest living inventor, he has never received any recognition for this achievement from any organisations or universities here.
Sunday Indo Business