IBM Deutschland GmbH plans to cut several hundred jobs in a move to lower operating costs, a company spokesman said Wednesday.

Most of the cuts will affect IBM Deutschland’s hard-disk drive plant in Mainz, which employs around 2,000 people, according to the spokesman. The company, he said, will not renew contracts with 350 temporary workers and will eliminate another 500 part-time jobs for students.

In June, IBM Corp. and Hitachi Ltd. agreed to consolidate their hard-disk operations into a joint venture in which the U.S. company owns 30 per cent, the Japanese company 70 per cent.

The Mainz unit, however, is not part of the joint venture, according to the spokesman. The unit, he said, will deliver hard-disk drives through 2003. “After that, we will have to see what this unit produces,” he said.

IBM also plans to eliminate around 350 jobs at its Oberhausen-based service subsidiary, Datenverarbeitungs-Service Oberhausen GmbH (DVO), according to the spokesman.

In addition to the layoffs, IBM Deutschland is holding off on replacing employees entering retirement or leaving the company, and is hiring new staff “very selectively,” the spokesman said.

At the end of 2001, IBM employed around 26,000 people worldwide.