Corning cuts photonics jobs

Corning Inc. has announced it will cut 825 jobs in its photonic technologies businesses, in response to weak market conditions in the telecommunications industry.

The layoffs will affect the company’s Benton Park, Pennsylvania, and Erwin Park, New York, manufacturing facilities, Corning said in a statement Thursday.

The move was not unexpected; Corning had announced on Feb. 16 that it would “evaluate the need for workforce reductions” after reducing its prediction of annual growth in photonics revenue to 50 percent from a previously announced figure of 75 to 90 percent.

The company added, however, that its optical-fiber business, where demand has remained strong in the first quarter of 2001, is not affected.

Corning is reportedly among several potential buyers interested in acquiring Lucent Technologies Inc.’s optical-fiber business. The company, along with Alcatel SA, JDS Uniphase Corp., and Pirelli SpA, has informally expressed an interest in bidding in an auction for the property, The Wall Street Journal reported in its Friday edition. Bids are expected to run between US$8 billion and $10 billion, the newspaper said.

Lucent officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Lucent has been forced to contemplate selling the optical fiber business, its only financially robust unit, as it lurched into financial crisis. The company posted a $1.02 billion loss for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2000, and announced plans to lay off 10,000 employees.

On Thursday the company confirmed it had secured $6.5 billion worth of credit, but the banks involved have linked the loans to financial performance targets.

Corning has been focusing its strategy in recent months on expanding its fiber-optic business. In September of last year, it signed a deal to buy Optical Technologies Inc., Pirelli’s U.S.-based fibre-optic division, for $3.9 billion.

Corning, based in Corning, N.Y., can be contacted at Lucent, in Murray Hill, N.J., is at