Japan's Hitachi says boss of rail unit to be based in Britain

LONDON, March 20 Thu Mar 20, 2014 9:15am EDT

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LONDON, March 20 (Reuters) - Japan's Hitachi Ltd, the company behind the first "bullet" trains, said the new boss of its global rail business would be based in Britain, as it eyes expansion in Europe and elsewhere.

Hitachi, Japan's largest electronics conglomerate, said on Thursday that it was promoting Alistair Dormer to the position of global chief executive of its rail systems business, shifting the centre of power in its rail unit away from its home market.

The move also marks a vote of confidence in the British rail manufacturing industry as the company is in the process of building a new factory in the north east of England to supply train carriages after being awarded contracts by the British government including a 1.2 billion pound ($2 billion) order last year.

"Today's announcement is a significant sign of intent by Hitachi to grow its business in the rail market," Dormer, who was formerly chief executive of Hitachi Rail Europe and will continue to be based in London in his new role, said.

"Both the UK and Japan remain important as markets for Hitachi Rail, and with our train factory in the north-east of England now under construction, we will work to realise our export potential from the UK, expanding into Europe and emergent markets."

The company said in a statement that the new appointment would not mean the movement of a large number of employees.

Train supply deals in Britain have been politically sensitive in the past. Three years ago a contract was awarded to Germany's Siemens AG, resulting in hundreds of job losses in Britain.

Britain's train-making industry was boosted earlier this year when the government awarded a 1 billion pound train supply contract to Bombardier Inc, securing jobs at its factory in northern England. Hitachi had also been in the running for the contract. ($1 = 0.6014 British Pounds) (Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Brenda Goh; additional reporting by Edmund Klamann and Yoshiyasu Shida)

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