Nortel posts huge loss, sets further cost cuts

Mon Nov 10, 2008 11:02am EST
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By Wojtek Dabrowski

TORONTO (Reuters) - Nortel Networks Corp reported a $3.4 billion quarterly loss on Monday and announced a round of sweeping new cost cuts, including 1,300 layoffs, as a global economic downturn erodes its business and strains its balance sheet.

The economic downturn also forced Nortel, North America's biggest maker of telephone gear, to cut its 2008 outlook again, as telecommunications customers reduce spending on equipment. The news pushed Nortel's stock, once valued at more than C$1,100 a share, down another 18 percent to C$1.22.

The new job cuts represent about 5 percent of Nortel's roughly 30,000-strong workforce. The company said it would also freeze salary increases, cut back on consultants and review its entire real-estate portfolio.

The moves are Nortel's latest response to a rapid deterioration of the business environment that the company had highlighted earlier this fall, Chief Executive Mike Zafirovski said during a conference call.

"I can assure you that the sense of urgency which we had in mid-September has only accelerated these last two months," he said. "This is a critical time for Nortel."

Several senior executives will leave the company early next year as the company streamlines its operations, he said.

The company said the latest cost-cutting, along with the moves announced earlier, will lead to annual savings of about $400 million in 2009.

But the new moves will also mean total charges to earnings and cash outlays of about $130 million.   Continued...

<p>A Nortel sign is seen in downtown Toronto February 27, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>