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Yahoo! is reportedly gearing up to sack up to 20 per cent of its worldwide staff in the next two weeks.

It currently has about 12,000 employees. Multiple tips doing the rounds say a list of between 1,500 and 2,500 individuals has been drawn up for the cutbacks.

Investors have long been clamouring for lay-offs, even before Yahoo! founder Jerry Yang resumed the helm last June. Meanwhile, the firm's share price has sunk to new lows and its slice of the search market continues to shrink.

In a statement in response to the gossip, Yahoo! said: "Yahoo! plans to invest in some areas, reduce emphasis in others, and eliminate some areas of the business that don't support the Company’s priorities."

A series of new product launches, such as its graduate jobseekers' social network Kickstart, have received a resounding "muh" from web users.

If Yang does swing the axe soon, it's likely staff in Europe - where the Google-shaped mountain it needs to climb is even bigger than in the US - will be hit. European boss Toby Coppel issued a public ultimatum in November that poorly performing units will be closed or sold in the first quarter of 2008. ®

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