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Cablecom to slash 260 jobs

Restructuring is taking place at Cablecom, Switzerland's largest cable operator

(Keystone)

Switzerland's largest cable operator Cablecom has announced it is to reduce its workforce by 15 per cent by the end of next year following a takeover.

Restructuring will start with 80 job cuts by the end of 2005 and will include natural departures and early retirement packages.

United States broadband company Liberty Global made the surprise announcement that it had bought Cablecom for SFr2.8 billion ($2.2 billion) at the end of September.

The statement was made the day after Cablecom had stated its plans to go public on the SWX stock exchange in Zurich in October. This was later cancelled.

Announcing the redundancies on Tuesday, Cablecom said the reductions were part of the company's ongoing strategy, as well as an adjustment to current market conditions.

It said in a statement that after its rapid growth phase in 2003 with the creation of 400 jobs it was now forced to reduce its current workforce of 1,750 by 15 per cent.

In all, 80 people would have to go by the end of the year with natural departures and early retirement accounting for the rest by the end of 2006.

The reorganisation would primarily affect the network management and technology divisions, as well as support functions and upper management, added the company.

Angry unions

Cablecom said divisions would begin these reductions before the end of November and that the company had drawn up a social plan and support measures, such as a job exchange.

"As part of the social plan we have drawn up, we will do our best to implement the job cuts in a way that is socially acceptable and that limits the number of layoffs to a minimum," said Cablecom managing director Rudolf Fischer.

However, trade unions criticised Cablecom and called for urgent talks with the management in a bid to prevent any redundancies.

The union said the company was in breach of an agreement because it did not seek talks with the unions about the restructuring plans.

Competition

Cablecom said strong competition in the telecommunications sector, shorter innovative cycles and the pace of technological progress were some of the reasons for the redundancies.

It added that Cablecom's integration into Liberty Global's UPC Broadband division had been implemented aggressively and that analysis had revealed "significant potential of synergies" in several divisions.

Cablecom said its aim was to become the strong number two in the Swiss telecommunications market and that it would continue to invest in infrastructure, products and services. It is also creating new jobs in certain divisions.

The news comes one day after the company announced that its CEO Bruno Claude would be stepping down with immediate effect to "pursue other challenges".

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Cablecom currently employs 1,750 people.
The restructuring will encompass 260 job cuts (15% of jobs), of which 80 are layoffs.
The cable operator offers cable television, broadband internet and fixed-line telephony.
It is present in 14 of the 16 largest Swiss cities.
Cablecom has just been bought by US firm Liberty Global for SFr2.8 billion.

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