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Business and Industry Correspondent Miles Fletcher
"The serious economic interest in south Wales wa what was going to happen to its European HQ in Newport"
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Vice President of Corporate Affairs Andy Williams
"The implications are very positive, the merger can only build on that success"
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Wednesday, 23 February, 2000, 19:44 GMT
Workers hope as billionaire sells firm

Newbridge Network
Workers at Newbridge Networks in Newport had feared an uncertain future

Job prospects for 400 Welsh workers will be enhanced following a takeover by a French telecoms firm, according to a company director.

The announcement comes after the Canadian-based firm Newbridge Networks was bought out by French company Alcatel.

Newbridge Networks - which was founded by Welsh multi-millionaire Terry Matthews - has been valued at 4.5bn in the deal with Alcatel.

Workers at its Welsh factory in Newport feared their future was uncertain after news of the takeover by the French firm.

But Andy Williams, Vice President of Corporate Affairs of Newbridge said jobs in Wales would not be under threat.

"The implications are largely very positive, Newbridge has been highly succesful and the merger can only build on that success," he said.

"With their (Alcatel's) extra resources and deeper pockets and Newbridge's know-how, products and people, that's a recipe for success."

Rumour and speculation

Mr Matthews made Newbridge a world leader in the computer and telecoms industry within 15 years of starting the company.

According to the Toronto Globe newspaper, the French-based company Alcatel has ended days of rumour and speculation and confirmed plans for a merger.

Mr Matthews who has a 22% stake in the company will receive the Alcatel shares worth just under 1bn.

Terry matthews Terry Matthews was Wales's first billionaire
He is already Wales's first billionaire - and it has been suggested he will now be spending more time on his business interests on this side of the Atlantic.

The newspaper expected Mr Matthews to stand aside as chairman and chief executive officer of Newbridge, which he founded in 1986 and take the helm of another high-tech business.

Mr Matthews, 55, who was born in Newbridge, south east Wales earned a degree in electronics at the University of Wales before moving to Ottawa in 1969.

He made his first fortune co-founding the electronics firm Mitel and selling it to BT in 1985.

Mr Matthews is best known in Wales for his luxury hotel and golf development the Celtic Manor resort outside Newport.

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