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Seagate Technology today announced that it is investing £90 million in its operations in Derry.

Invest Northern Ireland said that it would add a further £10 million to the investment, which will allow the hardware maker to develop new technology to boost memory capacity in storage devices. Seagate's main business is the design, manufacture and marketing of rigid disc drives, or hard drives.

A spokesperson for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment said that the cash was not specifically designed to lead to new jobs but would instead see the firm engage in higher-value projects in Derry.

"This is a major investment -- among the most significant in recent years -- in the North West and the wider Northern Ireland economy, by a global industry leader that has become a driving force here in the electronics industry in terms of its focus on innovation and relationships in the universities on cutting-edge R&D projects," added Ian Pearson, MP, NIO Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

Seagate employs 1,800 in Northern Ireland at two plants in Springtown and Limavady. At the Springtown plant, which is where the new investment will be made, the firm develops and manufactures recording heads, which write information onto and read information from hard drives. The Limavady plant produces nickel-plated aluminium substrates, a component of computer hard drives.

As Pearson noted, the investment is a major coup for Northern Ireland, which, like the Republic of Ireland, is encouraging high-tech firms to place high-level R&D facilities within its boarders.

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For his part, John Spangler, Seagate's Springtown plant manager, said that Northern Ireland was picked for the investment because the company had confidence in the "high quality of talent available" and "the successful experience" that the firm has had with the University of Ulster and Queens University in digital electronics. He added that R&D is an essential part of Seagate's strategy, and the move would mean that both the Springtown and Limavady factories now have centres working on advanced technology projects.

In April, Seagate announced an R&D investment, supported by Invest NI's START programme, which allowed the company to undertake a strategic research project on new magnetic recording technology and a "Research Centre of Excellence" at its Limavady plant.

As a corporation, Seagate, which has its main office in California but is incorporated in the Cayman Islands, employs about 45,000 globally. Last month the firm beat Wall Street's predictions for expected earnings per share with its guidance for the fiscal fourth quarter, claiming that its EPS should come in between USD0.30 and USD0.33. Wall Street had been calling for earnings of about USD0.28 on revenue of USD1.54 billion.

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