A NORTH-EAST subsea specialist has been bought by a Chinese firm in a £120m deal.

Specialist Machine Developments (SMD) has been acquired by Zhuzhou CSR Times Electric.

SMD is the parent firm of Queen’s Award-winning subsea trenching company Soil Machine Dynamics, based in Wallsend, North Tyneside.

That makes remotely-operated vehicles (ROV), which lay high-voltage cabling underwater at depths of up to 2,000m.

Bosses say the deal with CSR will allow it to target Asian markets and add to its more than 300-strong workforce.

Andrew Hodgson, SMD chief executive, said: “Becoming part of CSR will be a key step in our development as a business.

“We look forward to continuing to deliver to our markets in this new and exciting phase of our history.”

Jiang Yi, deputy president at CSR Zhuzhou Institute, added: “SMD has world-class technology, a world-class engineering team and an extensive track record in the subsea sector.

“We will work together to further develop the global subsea equipment market.”

The deal is subject to approval from Chinese regulatory authorities, which is expected to take up to four months.

Earlier this year, SMD secured an order from dredging and marine construction company Jan De Nul Group for a 150hp ROV.

The firm also provides work for the North-East supply chain, with family engineering firm Francis Brown Limited, in Stockton, previously building launch and recovery machinery for SMD, which was sent to Brazil.