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Mega French operator SFR prepares to slash another €500m in costs

Heads will roll with Catbert in charge...

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French operator SFR plans to cut costs by at least €500m (£398.5m) next year, according to union sources, and that's in addition to the €450m in cuts already in process.

SFR isn't the only French operator who'll be shedding staff next year, Reuters reports that Bouygues will be laying off 556 people from its telecoms unit as the price war triggered by the launch of Free Mobile starts to bite. SFR has apparently lost 3 per cent of its customers to Free, while Bouygues is predicting a profit drop of more than 10 per cent thanks to the newly competitive conditions.

SFR is owned by Vivendi, whose CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy was in direct charge of SFR until he was ousted earlier this week. He appointed ex-Vodafone chap Michel Combes to run SFR, but the Wall Street Journal reckons he's no longer in the picture and and SFR is now being run by Vivendi's Director of Human Resources Catbert Stéphane Roussel.

Put HR in charge and the results are predictable. The announcement won't be until November but the company has confirmed there will be big cuts in 2013 and various news sources are quoting staff who've been told to expect €500m in cuts next year, which means a lot less staff.

Vodafone will be chuffed though: the UK-based operator sold its 44 per cent stake in SFR last year, giving Vivendi full control of SFR, along with responsibility for the current situation. ®

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