Belfast Telegraph

1,000 jobs at threat, says Eircom

Telecoms group Eircom has warned it could cut its workforce by 1,000 as it seeks court protection to restructure its debt.

Under a business plan, a huge swathe of the 5,500 staff would be let go as the company looks to diversify its operations, including into television and fibre network.

In a statement, Eircom assured customers it was business as usual for all operations.

Three businesses - Eircom Ltd, Meteor Mobile Communications Limited and Irish Telecommunications Investments Limited - are affected by the examinership which will be ruled on by Mr Justice Peter Kelly in the High Court.

Paul Donovan, chief executive of Eircom Group, said there was no alternative to the court application.

"This is a necessary and unavoidable step on our journey to addressing the unsustainable level of debt on our balance sheet and continuing our operational transformation into a vibrant and competitive company," said Mr Donovan, who is planning to step down at the end of the year.

The examinership is reported to be the largest in Irish corporate history. Under the proposals, Eircom's gross debts would be reduced from about four billion euro to about 2.35 billion euro.

The proposed business plan being inspected by Judge Kelly would also see a retraining and recruitment of staff for new operations.

Eircom said there would be no direct impact on employees or services to customers and staff would continue to be paid on time.

The examiner's role is to inspect company affairs with a view to determining and recommending an appropriate proposal for Eircom as a going concern. This proposal must in turn be approved by the High Court. The process runs for a maximum of 100 days.

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