Wednesday 19 June 2019

Eir aiming to slash 750 jobs by the summer after French tycoon's takeover

Newly appointed Eir chief executive Carolan Lennon
Newly appointed Eir chief executive Carolan Lennon
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Telecoms firm Eir is planning to slash 750 jobs from its workforce by the middle of August.

The company announced the plan just days after French billionaire Xavier Niel completed his acquisition of a majority stake in the company.

Eir currently has 3,224 full-time equivalent staff, having let go 2,000 workers between 2012 and 2013, and 250 last year.

The latest round of job cuts is voluntary and staff accepted for the scheme will receive five weeks' pay per year of service, subject to caps.

Newly appointed Eir chief executive Carolan Lennon told staff in a memo yesterday that all the company's workers have a "role to play in helping to improve efficiencies, and cost savings is a key element of this".

In its last financial year, Eir generated revenue of €1.32bn and so-called earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (a key financial metric for many firms) of €520m.

Ms Lennon said that Eir was planning to simplify its products and business processes to create efficiencies.

"In tandem with improving efficiencies, we would also seek to realign our cost base to match the leaner, more agile organisation that we need to be," she said.

"Therefore we are now proposing a voluntary, incentivised exit scheme which will be open to the majority of employees across the business."

She insisted that the latest wave of redundancies would not affect Eir's ability to deliver its contractual commitments under the rural fibre home scheme which is designed to bring high-speed broadband to such areas.

The redundancy scheme will not be open to Eir's workers in the field or those involved in certain critical design, delivery and support services, according to Ms Lennon.

All employees are set to receive a personalised financial estimate of what they would be entitled to if they successfully availed of the redundancy scheme.

The company is also holding a series of meetings with staff.

Trade union Fórsa, which represents IT staff, some management grades and clerical officers at Eir, expressed concern at the redundancy plan, which was first revealed by the 'Sunday Independent'.

"We're obviously very concerned that more jobs are to be shed from the company," said Fórsa assistant general secretary Eugene Quinn.

"I am seeking an early meeting to discuss the many implications of today's announcement for workers in the company. Fórsa wants to engage with management as soon as possible in order to get a clear picture of the company's future, and put an end to any further speculation."

An Eir spokesman said Employment Affairs and Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty, and unions, had been informed of the plans.

Earlier this week, Mr Niel assumed control of Eir.

The telecoms entrepreneur acquired 65pc of Eir via two companies, NJJ and Iliad.

NJJ is Mr Niel's investment vehicle and now owns 32.9pc of Eir.

Stock market-listed Iliad owns the remaining stake in Eir that has been bought. Mr Niel owns 52pc of Iliad. He is also now a non-executive director at Eir.

The deal valued the equity of Eir at €1.4bn.

Senior Eir executives split about €100m from the sale of the telecoms company.

Irish Independent

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