When is inward investment not inward investment ? One minute some major worldwide conglomerate is knocking on your door offering to create hundreds of jobs by investing millions of pounds, dollars, yen in a huge new plant, and the next minute the economy of South Korea collapses and all those marvellous promises start to evaporate. Still, one door closes and another opens. Such is the merry-go-round of inward investment in the UK at the moment, and the latest casualty is Hyundai Electronics Industries Co Ltd, which despite having last month denied it was going to delay its 3bn pound investment in two semiconductor plants in Scotland (CI No 3,300), has now confirmed the project has been put on hold. It looks as if the firm’s Dunfermline semiconductor plant will lie empty until at least 1999, and there are even doubts as to whether it will ever go ahead. It had been expected to create 2,000 jobs in the area, and another 2,000 jobs among supplier companies. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has already put a 450m pound investment near Newcastle on hold, which was due to employ 3,000 making computer monitors, facsimile machines and microwave ovens, and Daewoo Electronics Co Ltd is apparently reviewing its video recorder plant in Antrim, Northern Ireland, threatening 800 jobs. Perhaps those receiving the inward investment shouldn’t be quite so quick to cash in on the public relations benefits of such announcements. The Scottish Secretary Donald Dewer had to attempt to play down the significance of the Hyundai back-off even as he was announcing Californian chip designer Cadence Design Systems Inc’s multi-million pound investment in Scotland, which claims to be set to create 1,800 jobs over the next five or so years (CI No 3,309). When pressed, Cadence admitted that this figure, initially music to the ears of the local inhabitants, would be dependent on economic and market conditions prevailing at the time. For Hyundai, market conditions back home have meant it has had to commit to slashing its investments by 30%, and focus instead on exports. However all is not lost for the UK. Today (Monday) will see the announcement of a major inward investment project in Wales by a large Taiwanese personal computer manufacturer. No names revealed as we went to press, but Acer Inc is the name that most readily springs to mind.
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