Wyeth mulls cutting 10 percent of staff

Drugmaker is considering the layoffs as part of restructuring; may reveal more details at Jan. 31 earnings report, March meeting with employees.

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By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Wyeth is considering a plan to cut 10 percent of its workforce, or about 5,000 employees, over a three-year period, the drugmaker said Friday.

"While the company plans to share the details of this initiative with employees towards the end of March, it is possible that over a three year period, a reduction in force equal to about 10 percent of current positions could occur," said Wyeth spokesman Doug Petkus.

Wyeth, based in Madison, N.J., has 50,000 employees worldwide. Petkus emphasized that "nothing is etched in stone, and it is premature to discuss how many or which positions will be affected or how the reductions will be achieved."

Petkus said the company is considering job cuts as part of a planned restructuring, but he didn't say how much money Wyeth plans to save.

He said Wyeth might discuss the plan when it reports fourth-quarter earnings on Jan. 31, and that the company would go into more detail at its March meeting with employees.

Wyeth (WYE, Fortune 500) stock was down about 2 percent in morning trading.

Cost-cutting has become de rigueur for Big Parma, with several drug companies embarking on multi-billion dollar restructurings, resulting in thousands of job cuts across the industry.

In December, Bristol-Myers (BMY\, Fortune 500) said it would cut 10 percent of its workforce, or approximately 4,300 employees, and get rid of more than half its factories by 2010 to save $1.5 billion. Also that month, Abbott Labs (ABT, Fortune 500) said it was slashing 1,200 jobs.

Merck & Co. (MRK, Fortune 500) has mostly completed its planned elimination of 7,000 jobs. Pfizer (PFE, Fortune 500) is also undergoing a multi-billion dollar reconstruction, with 10,000 job cuts in store.

Wyeth is expected to report increases in sales and earnings for its fourth quarter. Analysts polled by Thomson One Analytics forecast a 7 percent jump in sales and a 19 percent surge in earnings per share, without charges.

Wyeth is the fifth-largest U.S. drugmaker in terms of annual sales, behind Johnson & Johnson (JNJ, Fortune 500), Pfizer, Merck and Abbott Laboratories (ABT, Fortune 500). To top of page

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