Belfast Telegraph

Software firm sets sights on Belfast after award

By Margaret Canning

An Irish telecoms software company has revealed plans to open up in Belfast as it celebrates one of the biggest business awards in Ireland.

Openet, whose founders Joe Hogan and Niall Norton won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, employs 840 people in the US, Brazil and Malaysia, as well as its Dublin headquarters.

Mr Hogan, also the company's chief technology officer, said it had long had its sights on Belfast and was even looking at office rentals in the city.

"We have been talking to Invest NI as to what's available and what does it take to set up an office there.

"There are high quality graduates in the north and we were not tapped into that as well as we should be."

He added: "A new Belfast office would employ 20 to 30 people depending on who we can get and what the industry is like there."

Openet is the largest privately-owned software company in Ireland, and has clients including AT&T, Orange and Vodafone.

Winning the overall accolade at the awards in Dublin's CityWest hotel would "give us a lot more profile on the island" and help it recruit software engineers in a competitive field, Mr Hogan added.

Mr Hogan, who set up the company with Mr Norton in a basement office in Dublin in 1999, said plans for the future of the company be unaffected by the win.

He was tight-lipped on any detail of its future including whether Openet will be floated, sold or may even make acquisitions of its own.

Speculation last year suggested it would be floated in the US with a valuation of up to €250m while it was also rumoured to be a target of Cisco.