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ABB shakes up research and development to cut 135 jobs

ABB CEO Jörgen Centermann is reorganising the entire company Keystone Archive

The engineering concern, ABB, will reorganise its research and development department to cut costs and improve efficiency.

The shake-up will see 135 job cuts as part of a previously announced wider restructuring plan. Under the plan, group research and development will be concentrated on four laboratories, each with a clear client industry focus. Some long-running research projects will be scrapped.

ABB’s chief technology officer, Markus Bayegan, said the plan was drawn up following a major review.

“There are areas where we need to strengthen our position, like wireless,” said Bayegan, “and there are some areas where we believe the technologies are so mature that we do not think group R and D should do that.”

ABB is Europe’s biggest electrical engineering group, formed from the 1988 merger of Switzerland’s Brown Boveri with Sweden’s Asea. It has since undergone a number of transformations.

The latest, under the leadership of CEO Jörgen Centerman, aims to make the company much more client-focussed and quick-footed.

Hit by the economic slowdown, ABB is in the midst of cutting 12,000 jobs by the end of next year out of its global workforce of 160,000. Over 2,000 have already been axed.

Research and Development currently employs 6,000 people but most of them are attached to individual business units.

The central laboratories where the cuts will fall employ less than a thousand. In Europe, there will be a reduction in posts from 760 to 550, while posts in the United States and Asia will increase from 25 to 100.

The four new laboratories will focus on industrial processes and automation, power technologies, engineering and manufacturing technologies and oil and gas technologies.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR