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Unaxis announces further job cuts

A compressor wheel of a high vacuum pump. UNAXIS

Swiss technology group Unaxis says it intends to cut a further 220 jobs by the end of 2006 in a further round of restructuring.

The move will affect the company’s Vacuum Solutions division, known as Leybold Vacuum, which currently employs 1,483 people.

“The aim is to bring about marked improvements in profitability, as well as sustained strengthening of the company’s competitive position,” Unaxis said in a statement on Wednesday.

It said redundancies were unavoidable and would affect employees in the United States and the division’s headquarters in Cologne, Germany.

“The package of measures to be implemented before the close of 2006 is expected to bring Vacuum Solutions an operating margin of at least ten per cent from 2007,” the group added.

Unaxis estimates the cost of the restructuring to be SFr40 million ($34 million) by the end of 2006.

The announcement comes as Unaxis hopes to sell its loss-making display unit and turn around its fortunes by focusing on its more profitable thin film and vacuum technology businesses.

Takeover bid

Unaxis is currently the subject of a takeover battle. The Austrian investment group Victory has recently raised its stake in the company and is now the largest shareholder.

The Victory group denies that it wants to break Unaxis up for sale.

The Anda-Bührle family, which founded the once-famous Oerlikon-Bührle defence group that gave birth to Unaxis, is resisting the takeover.

In November last year Unaxis announced the loss of 400 Swiss jobs in its semiconductor division and the resignation of its chief executive as part of a major restructuring.

Unaxis has its headquarters in Pfäffikon, canton Schwyz, and has 80 subsidiaries in 25 countries.

It reported a net loss of SFr378 million for 2004, after announcing a series of profit warnings.

The company said it made an operating loss of SFr366 million, in line with market and its own expectations. Unaxis has been hit by high production costs and unfavourable exchange rates.

swissinfo with agencies

Unaxis was formed in 2000 following the break-up of Switzerland’s Oerlikon-Bührle industrial and defence group.
It employed 6,844 people at the end of 2004 (from 20,000 in 1991).
Unaxis’ thin-film business produces coatings for objects such as CDs and DVDs.
In 2004 it announced a net loss of SFr378 million.
In November 2004 Unaxis laid off 400 workers in its semiconductor division.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR