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Panda Security axes jobs, gets new chief exec

Anti-virus firm hit hard by freebie rivals

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Spanish anti-virus firm Panda Security has announced plans to cut its workforce in response to a sustained drop in sales.

Panda, which employs 1,000 worldwide as part of either its core business or in local franchises, plans to lay off 120 (or around 35 per cent) of its workforce at its headquarters in Bilbao. A further eight jobs will go in Madrid, according to Spanish media reports. The move follows an earlier round of 70 job losses at the start of the year.

The firm has been hit particularly hard by the general downturn in the Spanish economy as well as competition from free programs in the consumer market. Sales have dropped 35 per cent since 2007, when founder Mikel Urizarbarrena sold the firm to several US investment funds.

Earlier optimism that the firm may be able to file for an IPO has evaporated. Instead the firm has decided to shift strategy by tightening its belt and concentrating on selling security software and services from the cloud. The change of strategy has been accompanied by the departure of long-term chief exec Juan Santana, a former investment banker. José Sancho, a director at Panda Security whose CV also includes a stint at telecoms equipment manufacturer Alcatel, is stepping up to the helm as a replacement for Santana.

In a statement on the appointment and the cost-cutting, Panda said: "The situation of the international IT security market, characterised by the global crisis and the consumer market in Spain, and mainly due to the widespread offer of free antivirus online, has led Panda Security to implement a refocusing of business strategy, which will involve a reorganisation of the company and a significant cost reduction.

"This strategy implies a new stage in the management of the company, which began with the appointment of José Sancho, as the new chief executive officer of the company, replacing Juan Santana. José Sancho will be the chief executive of the group, with direct presence in 61 countries around the world."

The statement added that the rest of the board remains unchanged and that Panda will shift its strategy towards "cloud solutions, new services and added value products as well as new markets". ®

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