(Updates with rivals, shares starting in third paragraph.)
Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Alcatel-Lucent, France’s largest telecommunications-equipment supplier, plans to eliminate as many as 1,800 positions in Europe through firings and relocation, said a union official.
Almost 500 positions in Italy, or 20 percent of the total in the country, will probably go, Philippe Saint-Aubin, a representative of the European workers’ council for the Paris- based company, said in an interview today. Also affected will be more than 10 percent of the workforce in Belgium, and 5 percent in France, where Alcatel employs 9,000 workers, he said.
Alcatel-Lucent, scheduled to report earnings tomorrow, lags behind rivals such as Nokia Siemens Networks in adjusting its workforce as phone companies withhold gear orders. Ericsson AB last month cited slowing spending from North American customers to explain a slump in quarterly earnings, which sent the stock down 14 percent within a day.
Alcatel-Lucent rose 1.8 cents, or 1.2 percent, to 1.52 euros at 1:43 p.m. in Paris. The stock had fallen 42 percent in the 12 months through yesterday. Ericsson slipped 0.6 percent to 62.30 euros at 1:43 p.m. on the Stockholm exchange.
The job targets were communicated at a Jan. 18 meeting with management, Saint-Aubin said. At the end of 2010, Alcatel-Lucent employed about 79,000 workers worldwide, its annual report showed.
“Our priority is to continue to reduce our fixed and variable costs,” Alcatel-Lucent spokesman Simon Poulter said, declining to comment on the numbers. “We are doing that through a number of measures. They include the application of our global presence to maximize our workforce and apply talent effectively where it can generate value.”
About 600 to 700 employees are expected to gather tomorrow in front of Alcatel-Lucent’s headquarters to protest a worldwide freeze in salaries, Roland Tutrel and Stephane Dubled, two union representatives for the French unit, said in separate interviews.
Nokia Siemens, the venture between Nokia Oyj and Siemens AG, said in November it will eliminate 17,000 jobs, or about 23 percent of its workforce. In an interview with Les Echos newspaper published Jan. 2, Alcatel Chief Executive Officer Ben Verwaayen said it was “out of the question to reduce our workforce by 25%.”
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