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article imageHitachi switches global rail business to London

By AFP     Mar 20, 2014 in Business

Japanese electronics giant Hitachi will move its global rail business to London, as it seeks expansion in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, it said Thursday.

The group appointed London-based Alistair Dormer, the former head of Hitachi Rail Europe, as the new chief executive officer of its global rail systems business with effect from April 1, it said in a statement.

Hitachi aims to bid for lucrative contracts on Britain's new £50-billion ($82.5 billion, 60 billion euros) High Speed 2 (HS2) railway which will be built in two stages from 2016 with completion slated for 2033.

"The focus of the international leadership team based in London is to grow Hitachi's global rail business in international markets," a Hitachi spokeswoman said.

But the Japanese arm of the business will still be conducted from Tokyo.

"The announcement today will not mean a move of large numbers of employees from one of Hitachi Rail's location to the other nor any dilution of our support to key customers in Japan, China and other markets," the company said.

Thursday's news comes after Britain awarded Hitachi's European division a £1.2-billion contract in July to build high-speed trains at a new factory in northeastern England, where 750 staff will be employed.

The company will build 270 rail carriages at its purpose-built plant in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, which is expected to be operational from 2015 with full production starting in 2016.

British finance minister George Osborne welcomed Hitachi's announcement as "fantastic" news for the economy.

"For people like me who have grown up with news of manufacturing jobs leaving Britain, isn't it fantastic that manufacturing jobs are coming back to Britain," he told BBC television.

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