Agilent job cuts: Asia not spared

Agilent Technologies has confirmed that its plan to cut 4,000 jobs worldwide will affect its staff in Asia Pacific (including Japan), but the network testing equipment maker has yet to determine the extent of the cuts in the region.

SINGAPORE--Agilent Technologies has confirmed that its plan to cut 4,000 jobs worldwide will affect its staff in Asia Pacific (including Japan), but the network testing equipment maker has yet to determine the extent of the cuts in the region.

The Palo Alto-headquartered company announced on Monday that it would ax approximately 4,000 jobs, or 9 percent of its worldwide headcount, in an effort to "restore the company to profitability as soon as possible".

"The current slowdown is affecting most of Agilent's businesses and therefore, most of its geographies," a locally-based company spokesperson said in an email interview this afternoon.

She could not provide further details but noted that the company will "have a clearer picture of the situation in the coming weeks".

In Asia, Agilent has 13,000 employees in its manufacturing and business bases in Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. The Hewlett-Packard spin-off has 44,000 staff worldwide.

In August 2000, the company made plans to cut 450 full-time and 200 temporary workers. Among the full-time staff retrenched, 50 were from Asia Pacific.

Agilent also announced in January this year that it would outsource the manufacturing of its automated test equipment systems to Benchmark Electronics Inc in Singapore.

Meanwhile, the company spokesperson revealed that besides the layoffs in the region, Agilent has also implemented other cost-cutting measures.

In May 2001, its staff in the region took a 10 percent pay cut and senior executives had their salaries reduced a month earlier, she noted. Spending on travels was also restricted to customer-related ones, and staff were only allowed to travel on economy class, she added.

The spokesperson also noted that the company had made cuts on its “discretionary expenses and hiring of temporary staff". However, she could not reveal the number of contract staff in the region.

Neither could she provide details on the status of Agilent's relationship with its original equipment manufacturers, given the present cost-cutting direction.

Agilent reported revenues of US$1.8 billion for it quarter ended July 2001 and lost US$0.24 per share. The firm revealed that it had orders of US$1.3 billion for the same period.

The New York Stock Exchange-listed company also said in a statement yesterday that it "expects to incur restructuring expenses of approximately US$200 million to reflect the impact of severance packages and related costs associated with the work force reductions".

"The work force reductions will result in about US$500 million in annualized savings," the statement added.

Overnight, Agilent shares fell US$0.36 to US$26.09 on the American bourse.

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