Equant to cut about 3,000 jobs

As a result of the merger between global network operator Equant NV and France Télécom SA's Global One Communications subsidiary that was finalised on Friday, about 3,000 people can expect to lose their jobs.

Three thousand "would be a hard number to confirm, but when all is said and done, we are expecting to have about 10,000 employees," said Equant spokesman Scott McClintock.

Equant currently has 13,300 employees, according to its Web site.

"With the combination of those two companies, you get economies of scale. You wouldn't expect the headcount to remain the same and you expect job losses with any major merger," said James Eibisch, a research analyst for International Data Corp. (IDC).

"Many companies are shedding far higher job numbers than that recently," he added.

France Télécom assumed control of global network operator Equant Friday, selling the international data networking operations of its Global One Communications subsidiary to Equant, and buying the stake in Equant owned by the SITA Foundation.

Equant now gains control of the network infrastructure and operations of its joint networking venture with SITA, while in return SITA will market Equant's services to the aviation community at preferential prices.

The new Equant/Global One has about 3,700 large business customers and has combined pro forma revenue $2.76 billion in 2000, the companies said. Customers include Toshiba Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Group and pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc, Equant said on its Web site.

The deals will potentially mean a greater network reach for users when the two companies' networks are combined. "The services are still there, the main thing that's changing for customers is the branding. But the merger does take away two competitive options for consumers and there are now fewer and fewer options for large enterprise customers. In one sense, customers are running out of options," Eibisch said.

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