Tongfang seeks location for Jamaican assembly plant -- wants to raise US$60m on JSE



CHINA-BASED technology company Tongfang Global sees the possibility of earning US$300 million (J$34.5 billion) annually by establishing a multi-media assembly plant in Jamaica by September.

The project is expected to create up to 400 jobs for locals, and the company is now in talks with the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) to get the project underway, Strategic Business Development Consultant for Tongfang Global (Ja), Eroll Walters told the Jamaica Observer.

Tongfang Global, with headquarters in Hong Kong, stands as one of the world's largest technology enterprises with multiple manufacturing facilities dedicated to the production of digital televisions, according to Walters.

The company is now in expansion mode with facilities built in the United States and United Kingdom last year. Its primary facility in north-east China operates an annual production capacity of 3.5 million units.

The proposed Jamaican plant, which will bear the name Tongfang Global (Ja) Company Limited, plans on importing electronic parts from its headquarters in China to have them assembled in Jamaica for export to North America. The company will be assembling kitchen and lifestyle appliances under the Seiki brand, and is eyeing an expansion into white goods by 2016.

Tongfang Global (Ja) plans on raising US$60 million (J$6.9 billion) on the Jamaica Stock Exchange to finance operations and will allow investors up to a 49 per cent stake in the business.

"We want to understand how we can get business done in Jamaica," Walters said. "We are investing our money and technology and we want to see what the Government has to offer in exchange for that. We are not asking for money, we're just simply saying that there has to be concessions in terms of the things that we do; we can't be importing our supplies and be paying duties because we are exporting that back out of the country."

Currently, the company's biggest market is North America where it supplies department stores, including Walmart and Target. Having a facility in Jamaica will allow Tongfang Global to meet its supplier's demands as well as target other regions such as South America and parts of Europe.

The company is also looking to partner with local universities for the recruiting of electrical and engineering students.

"Our products require constant upgrades, so what we would like to do is take students from the universities in Jamaica, send them to universities in Beijing where they can learn ideas and come back to Jamaica and create their own research and development, which allows us to tap into other types of technology," Walters told the Business Observer.

He stated that the company is keen on implementing products that can compete with brands such as Samsung and Sony.

At the hosting of the recent Jamaica Investment Forum (JIF), Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller assured investors that Jamaica is the best place to do business in the Caribbean and is now open for business.

"To us as an investor, Jamaica is an attractive proposition," president of Tongfang Global, Tak Hung Lam, stated in the company's prospectus. "The well-developed infrastructure with world-class highways, airports and seaports, the robust telecommunications infrastructure and the impressive sea connectivity -- number one transshipment port in the region -- makes Jamaica an ideal location for us to seek out partners as we seek to expand the global reach of Tongfang Global."

"This is an exciting time for Jamaica, with the visit of the US President Barack Obama coming off the back at the success of the Jamaica Investment Forum. With companies like GraceKennedy and Digicel competing successfully on the international stage, attracting others is the way forward," he added.

Walters, the president, and Tongfang general manager Mickey Cho, are expected to arrive in Jamaica on Friday in search of locations for the planned hub. The team will also be meeting with JAMPRO and investors during their stay.

"We are looking for somewhere from downtown along Marcus Garvey Drive into Greater Portmore. We are going to have loads of containers coming in so we would prefer to be somewhere close to the wharfs and we want to make it accessible for our employees," Walters said.

Published Date: 
Wednesday, April 15, 2015