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Embarq to drop 500 to 700 jobs

Friday, August 22, 2008 | 2:14 p.m. CDT; updated 3:05 p.m. CDT, Friday, August 22, 2008

KANSAS CITY - Telecommunications provider Embarq Corp. said Friday it is cutting between 500 and 700 jobs and eliminating around 300 contract positions as it deals with a continued loss of telephone customers.

The Overland Park, Kan.-based company said the job cuts will all come from its Network Services organization, which installs and maintains its network, and is part of the company's attempts to bring down costs.

Embarq, the nation's fourth-largest traditional telephone company with service in 18 states, has experienced a double whammy as more customers are dropping wireline phones for wireless and Internet telephone services while the slowdown in new housing is reducing the number of new customers.

In the second quarter, the company said it lost a net of 170,000 access lines to end at 6.02 million, or 7.8 percent fewer than a year ago. It still believes annual line losses will be similar to last year, when the company lost a little more than 6 percent of its lines.

"Our rationale is that to ensure the continued success of our enterprise we are constantly evaluating the size and placement of our work force, including the ways we staff and prioritize work," said Embarq spokesman Charles Fleckenstein. "This action allows us to rationalize the size of our work force relative to the size of our customer base."

Fleckenstein said the company is first asking management and supervisors in all markets to take a voluntary buyout and will ask regular workers to do the same in a few weeks. If not enough employees take a voluntary buyout, the company will have to make layoffs, he said.

Embarq said it expected to complete the cuts in the fourth quarter but will incur charges related to severance and other termination costs in the third quarter. Those charges haven't been determined, Fleckenstein said.

In June, Embarq announced it was handing over four technical service centers to Nokia Siemens Networks, transferring 256 Embarq workers to the other company. It also said it planned to close three customer call centers, affecting 210 jobs.

Embarq shares were up 15.5 cents to almost $47.92 in midday trading on Friday.

 

 


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