France hit by layoffs at Hewlett-Packard, Saint-Gobain

A spate of layoffs hit France this week, with U.S. computer-maker Hewlett-Packard detailing 1,400 cuts and transfers, and glass and construction group Saint-Gobain announcing it will move positions to the Czech Republic.

The French editor of video games Infogrames also announced a restructuring plan on Tuesday, saying it would cut 280 jobs in France. It also announced cuts in offices in other parts of Europe, including Britain.

The largest cuts came from Hewlett-Packard. The computer-maker detailed plans Monday about how it plans to cut more than 1,200 jobs in France as it merges with Compaq Computer Corp. The job cuts had been previously announced.

Company officials told staff representatives that nearly a third of its 1,800 work force at its Grenoble base will be shed as part of a restructuring that will take out 5,900 jobs in Europe and 15,000 worldwide.

Additional cuts will come from several other plants, including 478 jobs lost from the Paris region. Another 174 jobs will be transferred to "different sites," the company said.

French glass and construction materials group Saint-Gobain said Tuesday it's moving some of its French advanced ceramics operations to the Czech Republic as part of a broad restructuring of this business sector.

The move will result in 153 job cuts in France, while another 37 employees will be transferred to jobs elsewhere in the division. The French headquarters of the company, which already has some ceramics operations in the Czech Republic, will be shut down.

The company's Saint-Gobain Ceramiques Avancees Demarquest unit makes products including ceramic discs for sanitary faucets and military and civilian protection equipment.

Earlier this year, Saint-Gobain was in talks to sell the unit to its competitor CeramTec AG of Germany, but the talks fell through.

Saint-Gobain Advanced Ceramiques Demarquest was in the news last year after the French health authorities warned that there had been an unusually high incidence of breakage in some of its products used in orthopedic implants. The company was forced to issue a recall notice for the faulty products.

The Infogrames group, formed in 1983, is the European leader in videogames, and employs 1,800 people worldwide, including 480 in France.

Infogrames said it would reduce its publishing division, support services and internal services, and reorganize fully its French activities to be "in line with competition."

Further cost-cutting efforts include an employment freeze, reducing the number of company cars, mobile phones, limiting business trips and attendance to exhibitions and conferences, Infogrames said.

600450 France hit by layoffs at Hewlett-Packard, Saint-Gobain glassonweb.com

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