Will Yahoo Asia be spared from job cuts?

It remains unclear whether Yahoo Inc's global retrenchment exercise will affect Asia.

With the sudden resignation of Yahoo Asia's interim head, coupled with worldwide layoffs and lower proifts, could Asia be next on the chopping block?

SINGAPORE--Yahoo Inc's plan to cut 420 jobs were announced last Wednesday when the US-based Web portal operator reported its first quarter earnings.

Yahoo reported a net income of US$7.6 million on revenues of US$180.2 million for the first quarter ended March 2001. This was compared with a net income of US$60.5 million on sales of US$230.8 million a year ago.

The cost reduction measure represents 12 percent of its global workforce of 3,510 people.

"Currently, we have no further details on how this (global exercise) will be applied to specific regions," Yahoo Asia spokesperson Pauline Wong said in an email interview.

However, Wong noted that "the workforce reduction would take place within the next 30 days." Yahoo employs 300 people in Singapore, India, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, she added.

Last Wednesday, Yahoo also said its senior vice president of international operations, Heather Killen, would leave the company. Killen was made the interim head of Yahoo Asia after the departure of Savio Chow end February.

"A new managing director for Asia has not yet been named," said Wong, who noted that Yahoo's existing global and US-based executives would take over in the interim. The executives include president and chief operating officer Jeff Mallet. Killen's last day falls on June 15. Her departure came after a series of high level executive resignations in the last few months.

They include:

•  Christina Teo, Yahoo Singapore country manager
•  Tim Koogle, Yahoo CEO (who remains as chairman)
•  Savio Chow, Yahoo Asia vice president and managing director
•  Mark Rubinstein, head of Yahoo's Canadian operations
•  Fabiola Arredondo, who leads Yahoo's European operations
•  Jin Youm, Yahoo South Korea CEO
•  Anil Singh, head of Yahoo's advertising and marketing efforts

Executive search firm Spencer Stuart was retained to recruit a new CEO for Yahoo, while Switzerland-based Egon Zehnder International was engaged to find a replacement for Killen.

Yahoo has yet to announce Koogle's replacement.

Looking ahead, Yahoo expected sales of US$165 million to US$185 million for the second quarter, and US$700 million to US$775 million for the year.

Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for the second quarter is expected to be between a US$10 million loss to breakeven. For the year, Yahoo expected EBITDA to be between breakeven and US$50 million.

Wall Street analysts were not surprised by the company's revenue but offered a cautious outlook for Yahoo's performance for the remainder of the year.