Uncertainty over jobs at Equant AP

It remains uncertain whether some of Equant's staff in Asia Pacific will lose their jobs following the completion of its merger with France Telecom's Global One unit last week.

SINGAPORE--It remains uncertain whether some of Equant's staff in Asia Pacific will lose their jobs following the completion of its merger with France Telecom's Global One unit last week.

"It is still early days yet to determine the impact which (the merger) will have in the industry, or in Singapore," said Equant spokesperson Robert O'Brien in an email reply.

The newly merged entity, now known as Equant, currently employs 1,700 people in Asia Pacific. The number includes staff in its three regional data centers in Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan, added Bill Padfield, Equant head for Markets and Sales in Asia Pacific and Australasia.

"We will update you as and when further developments have been finalized," O'Brien noted, adding that "the new entity will offer increased efficiency in terms of meeting customer needs".

Equant claims to provide high-speed network services--including Internet Protocol, frame relay, Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), corporate voice, integrated voice and data hosting--to 3,700 corporations worldwide including Toshiba, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell Group and Pfizer.

Yesterday, Reuters cited an industry source close to the company saying that Equant plans to cut up to 3,000 jobs from the combined Equant-Global One workforce of 14,000.

The report also said that Equant aims to cut its workforce through a mixture of early retirements and redundancies during the months ahead. Meanwhile, Les Echos said reductions would most likely affect staff in Britain and France.

In its reply today, Equant declined to comment on the reports pending an worldwide announcement on the impact of the merger. The company would not reveal when the announcement would be made.

According to its Web site, the merged company saw a pro forma revenue of US$2.76 billion in 2000. Equant also projected a pro forma revenue of US$3 billiom to US$3.5 billion for the current year.

Equant is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the Euronext Paris.

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