* Hitachi signs $7 bln train factory deal
* Tata's Jaguar to create jobs at Midlands plant
* Hong Kong tycoon spends $1 bln on UK gas assets
* News comes ahead of Olympics, investment conference
By Rosalba O'Brien
LONDON, July 25 As its economy stutters, the
British government is looking to deep-pocketed Asian investors
to keep the motors running.
Foreign companies announced over $8 billion investment in
the country on Wednesday, just ahead of a series of summits held
by the business ministry that is taking advantage of the London
Olympics to attract a roster of international executives and
sell the case for investing in Britain.
In a deal that will create more than 900 jobs, the
government approved a 4.5 billion pound ($7 billion) contract
with a consortium led by Japan's Hitachi to build 92
intercity trains at a newly-built factory in County Durham,
The Agility consortium, comprising Hitachi and British
construction company John Laing, has long been the preferred
bidder for the contract.
"We believe it is very important to contribute to job
creation in the UK," said Hitachi Chief Strategy Officer Shinya
Mitsudomi at a press briefing in Tokyo.
"We have learned so much about the railroad system from the
UK, we felt it would be fitting to return to the birthplace of
the railway to return the favour," Mitsudomi said.
Car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover, which is owned by
India's Tata Motors, in turn said it would create
1,100 jobs to build new luxury car models at its West Midlands
And another significant Asian investor in Britain, Asia's
richest man Li Ka-Shing, will buy gas transportation and
distribution company Wales and Water Utilities for around $1
Ka-Shing's companies already own Northumbrian Water,
acquired last year, and spent 5.8 billion pounds on UK
electricity distribution networks in 2010.
The Global Investment Conference, which begins on Thursday
and is described by the government as the largest investment
event ever held in Britain, will hope to shore up more of this
kind of vote of confidence in British manufacturing.
London's Science Museum opened an exhibition on Tuesday
about British manufacturing called 'Make it in Great Britain',
backed by the business ministry and seeking to dispel the idea
that the country no longer makes goods.
Companies taking part include U.S. firm Coca-Cola,
Germany's Siemens, Canada's Bombardier -
and Britain's Rolls-Royce.
Britain, which is mired in its second recession in four
years, saw GDP slump much more than expected in the second
quarter, data showed on Wednesday, piling pressure on the
government to come up with ways to get the economy moving again.
Manufacturing, and especially the largely foreign-owned car
industry, has been one of the bright spots in the economy, with
both Jaguar and Nissan announcing investments this year
as auto production has surged, and General Motors
choosing in May to build the Astra in the UK rather than