The Esec group, based in Cham, canton Zug, has announced it will cut 250 jobs worldwide by the end of the year. The news comes as its parent company, Unaxis (formerly Oerlikon-Bührle), recorded a 27 per cent increase in sales for the first six months of 2001.
The announcement sent Esec shares tumbling on the Swiss stock exchange. In early trading, the share price fell by 20 per cent, or SFr40, to SFr170, before climbing back to SFr190.
By the end of the day's trading, the shares had picked up slightly to close on SFr198.
Esec, which builds semi-conductor assembly robots, said on Monday it had suffered from the recent downturn in the industry. Sales reached only SFr140.8 million ($78.62 million) from January to June, less than half of the 2000 result.
The company said it expected the trend to continue until the end of 2001, with turnover likely to reach only 30 to 40 per cent of the previous year's sales. In a statement, Esec added it had therefore decided to implement cost-cutting measures in Switzerland and abroad.
Around 170 people out of 800 are expected to be made redundant, including 110 in Cham. Some 50 people are expected to leave the company due to normal attrition, while 30 others will disappear from the company's lists with the sale of a small business unit in North Carolina.
Esec's parent company, Unaxis, announced at the same time that sales were up 27 per cent in the first half of 2001 to SFr1.237 billion, due mainly to orders already registered before the beginning of the year. The technology corporation said that new orders were comparable to the 2000 results.
swissinfo with agencies