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BT sacks 4000 in German cost cutting

Viag Interkom loses 13 per cent of workforce

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BT is to get rid of 4,000 staff at its German mobile subsidiary Viag Telekom - 13 per cent of the total work force.

The chairman of Viag, Joachim Preisig, told the FT in Germany that the job losses will come from "normal personnel fluctuations" and the company was hoping to avoid redundancies. Viag Interkom, he said, was trying to come out with a positive earnings figure by the start of 2003.

What he didn't expand upon was the pressure from BT, in particular Sir Christopher Bland to cut down debt. This has been the chairman's crusade still starting in the job several months ago and Viag Interkom, together with other European mobile asset Telfort, caused some embarrassment when they announced joint losses of £154 million, which took BT Wireless into the red.

The FT did say however that Preisig had not ruled out any takeovers as a way to build a larger customer base. Viag Telekom was known to be interested in the mobile company Talkline, but is unlikely to get hold of the £190 million needed for the purchase. ®

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