20,000 NEC workers to lose jobs

NEC plans to lay off 20,000 workers, close factories and withdraw from some business areas as a result of the poor economic conditions, it said Friday.

The company, one of Japan’s biggest electrical and electronics companies, will lay off 9,500 staff in Japan, look to early retirement for a further 450 domestic staff and cut 9,000 workers overseas. The announcement follows earlier reports of considerable drop in sales for Sony and a revised earnings forecast for Nintendo.

NEC did not announce details of where the layoffs will hit and which divisions will be closed, but it said it will pursue “substantial reform” at its chip-making subsidiary NEC Electronics.

NEC had been hoping to make a ¥15 billion ($200.7 million) net profit in its current financial year, which runs until March, but is now expecting a net loss of $3.8 billion due to poorer than expected business, write downs on investments and the restructuring. It expects sales for the full year of $56.1 billion, which if realized would be a 9 per cent drop on actual sales in the previous year.

In the last three months of 2008, NEC’s fiscal third quarter, the company recorded a loss of $1.7 billion on sales of $12.6 billion. In the same period a year earlier it lost just $66.9 million on sales of $14.7 billion.

Results in its information technology and network systems business were mostly in line with expectations but the cell phone handset and semiconductor units suffered due to a drop in demand. The strong Japanese yen also hurt profits from overseas business.

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