Clariant to cut 4,000 jobs
The Swiss specialty chemicals group, Clariant, is to slash 4,000 jobs over the next two years as part of a cost-cutting drive.
The company also announced on Tuesday that it had swung back into the black in 2003, with a net profit of SFr161 million ($130 million).
Clariant reported a SFr648 million loss in 2002.
The group did not specify where the job cuts would be made, but said workers affected in Switzerland would be offered another position within the company.
“The job losses are painful but inevitable if we want to keep our heads above water,” said Roland Lösser, Clariant’s chief executive.
Clariant had around 28,000 employees at the end of 2002.
Swiss unions have criticised the job cuts, calling them "brutal" and urging Clariant to find away to avoid the redundancies.
Analysts point to Clariant’s acquisition of the British fine chemicals maker, BTP, as the root of its problems. The purchase left the group with heavy debts.
The company cited its ongoing cost-cutting and restructuring programme - unveiled last summer - as the main reason for last year's recovery.
Clariant shares have increased by 40 per cent since the plan was announced.
The group recovered from a debt of SFr3.7 billion halfway through 2003, reducing it to SFr2.9 billion by the year-end.
Clariant also hopes to sell its electronics business as part of the programme. It said talks on the sale were "well advanced".
However, Clariant has also asked shareholders for SFr920 million to help repair its finances.
The specialty chemicals sector has been hit by higher prices for raw materials and the global economic downturn.
Lösser said the company still had a long way to go despite the improved financial results.
“For the time being I do not see a sustainable improvement in demand, but I am more optimistic than three months ago,” he said.¨
swissinfo with agencies
2001: Loss of SFr1.24 billion.
2002: Loss of SFr648 million.
2003: Net profit of SFr161 million.
In compliance with the JTI standards
More: SWI swissinfo.ch certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative
Contributions under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!
If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at email@example.com.