BCE's new CEO plans layoffs, asset sales: report

Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:26pm EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - George Cope, BCE Inc's new chief executive, has plans for a major restructuring of the company, including asset sales, layoffs and more focus on customer service, the Globe and Mail reported on Friday.

Citing people familiar with Cope's strategy, the newspaper reported on its website that his first objective is to streamline senior and middle management to make BCE more nimble at a time when competitors threaten its market share.

Cope's new executive team is also one-third smaller than the 17 senior executives who reported to his predecessor, Michael Sabia, the Globe reported.

Cope is taking over the company as its C$34.8 billion ($34.5 billion) buyout by a group of private equity investors, led by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, nears its close.

Analysts have long said BCE will likely have to lay off middle managers and sell underperforming assets, such as its ExpressVu satellite television unit, if it is to remain competitive.

BCE's major rivals are Telus Corp and Rogers Communications Inc, although an auction of wireless spectrum currently under way could yield additional competitors.

BCE shares were up 10 Canadian cents at C$39 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

($1=$1.01 Canadian)

(Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Rob Wilson)

<p>A telephone booth and company sign are seen outside the offices of BCE Inc., Canada's largest telecoms group, in Montreal, May 21, 2008. REUTERS/Shaun Best</p>