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Update: Nokia Siemens Networks cuts 17,000 jobs

New focus on mobile broadband will also see IT and property cost cuts

Nokia Siemens Networks is set to cut 17,000 staff around the world.

The news comes as the company announced a strategy to cut operating and production expenses by 1 billion Euros (£860 million), and to refocus on mobile broadband and services.

It will also cut costs of IT, property, procurement, general and administrative expenses, and reduce the number of its suppliers.

Nokia Siemens Networks will consolidate sites, transfer activities to global delivery centres, reduce some central functions, integrate Motorola's wireless assets, and simplify processes.

Rajeev Suri, chief executive officer of Nokia Siemens Networks, said the company needed to "take the necessary steps to maintain long term competitiveness and improve profitability in a challenging telecommunications market".

"We believe that the future of our industry is in mobile broadband and services - and we aim to be an undisputed leader in these areas," he added.

The company will target end-to-end mobile network infrastructure and services, with the emphasis on mobile broadband.

"Our goal is to provide the world's most efficient mobile networks, the intelligence to maximize the value of those networks, and the services capability to make it all work seamlessly," said Suri.

The company insisted that in spite of the cuts, it remained committed to research and development.

But it said that areas "not consistent" with the new strategy will be divested or reduced in scope.

Suri said the company needed to "take action now" in order to improve its "profitability and cash generation".

The announcement was not a surprise to Mark Newman, chief research officer at market research company Informa Telecoms & Media. Earlier this year, the two parent companies gave up on finding an external investor, and injected 1 billion into the company, he said.

"We knew Nokia Siemens needed to make some decisions because sooner or later the cash injection is going to run out," said Newman.

Since its inception, Nokia Siemens has gone through different cycles. Between two and four years ago, the company was struggling to compete on price with Huawei and Ericsson, and became very aggressive on pricing with some success in winning new business, according to Newman.

"But the question was if that was a profitable business or not. Today, the company is still aggressive, but not to the extent it was a year ago," said Newman.

Nokia Siemens has said a vendor has to be first or second in a market to be successful.

"It is setting themselves a pretty tough challenge, because Huawei and Ericsson are the most successful vendors in the wireless infrastructure business. It is difficult to see who Nokia Siemens is going to dislodge," said Newman.

Going forward, the company will focus on mobile broadband and related services. Other areas like its wireline business will be sold or "managed for value," according to Nokia Siemens.

Besides savings from staff cuts, Nokia Siemens will also target areas such as real estate, information technology, product and service procurement costs, overall general and administrative expenses, and aim for a significant reduction of suppliers in order to further lower costs and improve quality, the company said.

"What we are seeing now is a genuine attempt to turn it into a single company with no overlapping functions," said Newman, who also hopes Nokia Siemens has a clear idea of where it is going to make cuts, so it doesn't turn into a drawn-out process that drags the company down.

Nokia Siemens will now begin talks with employee representatives in accordance with country-specific legal requirements.

Additional reporting by Mikael Rickns, IDG News Service


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