Bell Aliant to eliminate 500 management jobs

Mon Jan 12, 2009 5:55pm EST
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Bell Aliant said on Monday it will cut about 500 management jobs, or about 5 percent of its total work force, to reduce costs and help it make decisions more quickly.

The cuts represent about 15 percent of Bell Aliant's management, the regional Canadian telecom group said on Monday.

"The leaner management structure will bring all employees closer to customers, allow for faster decision-making and reduce costs," Chief Executive Karen Sheriff said in a statement.

The senior executive team that reports to Sheriff has been trimmed to seven people from 11, the company said.

The company also said it will report fourth-quarter financial results and 2009 forecasts on February 3.

Greg MacDonald, an analyst at National Bank Financial, said the announcement will help make investors more confident that Bell Aliant, in which BCE Inc has 44 percent stake, will be able to continue making its regular cash distributions to unitholders.

"A yield stock like Bell Aliant is driven almost entirely by perception of free cash flow," he wrote in a note to clients.

"In our view, this news is positive in that it will add comfort to the market that the board is addressing the threat of economic weakness and that subsequently a cut to the distribution is less likely."

Units of Bell Aliant, which operates mainly in Atlantic Canada, closed 17 Canadian cents higher at C$24.00 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

($1=$1.22 Canadian)

(Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Peter Galloway)