WorldCom slashes hundreds of jobs in Asia

Computerworld Today –

Troubled telecommunications company WorldCom Inc. Wednesday slashed the jobs of more than 200 employees from its Sydney office.

Rowena Kwok, spokesperson for WorldCom Asia-Pacific, told Computerworld that 390 staff throughout the Asia-Pacific region were made redundant today as part of the telco's realignment plan for its Asia-Pacific business units.

"The total number of affected employees in Asia-Pacific is 390 out of about 1,800 staff (including OzEmail) we have in the region," Kwok said.

WorldCom Australia employs 500 staff locally so the loss of almost half of its employees will leave a gaping hole.

Kwok said affected employees came from different departments and layers of the company.

Some employees were informed this morning and some are some required to work for another three days for a transition period, she said. Kwok said some staff may work until February next year -- depending on an individual basis.

A statement issued by the telco said the layoffs are a result of the company refocusing its Asian business plan with an emphasis on profitability rather than the traditional focus on revenue growth.

"Additionally, WorldCom Asia-Pacific will continue to rationalize and optimize its local and international networks and facilities while seamlessly offering its premier data, Internet and voice services" the statement said.

"With the way the business is going at the moment, at this time, we do not see the need to cut further," Kwok said.

Former president of merged companies, Hewlett-Packard and Compaq Computer, Michael Capellas, is reported to be the front-runner to succeed John Sidgmore as CEO WorldCom.

WorldCom in April appointed Sidgmore president and CEO after the resignation of Bernard Ebbers, who built the second-largest long-distance telecommunication company in the U.S. from a series of acquisitions, but left as questions emerged over the financial viability of the company. Sidgmore plans to return to his previous role as WorldCom vice chairman.

Two months after Ebbers' departure, WorldCom announced it had discovered accounting irregularities and would restate its earnings for 2001 and the first quarter of 2002 by $3.8 billion.

WorldCom's woes have since grown worse. In August, the carrier said it had discovered an additional $3.8 billion in errors and would restate earnings for 2000.

Last week, WorldCom disclosed its earnings restatement could top $9 billion.

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