Sharp to cut 2,000 jobs in Japan, 6 percent of local workforce

The company will make the cuts through a voluntary retirement program to be offered in November

Troubled Japanese LCD and TV panel maker Sharp said Tuesday it will cut 2,000 jobs domestically, or about 6 percent of its local workforce, as part of its ongoing restructuring efforts.

The company said the reduction in staff would come through a voluntary retirement program to be offered at Sharp and its main subsidiaries during the first two weeks in November, with those selected to officially retire in December.

Sharp, one of the world's largest makers of display panels used in flat-screen televisions, has been scrambling to shore up its finances as it faces huge operating losses. The company, which has been hurt by falling prices of LCD panels and TVs, said in March it had reached an agreement to sell a 10 percent stake in itself to Taiwan's Foxconn Technology Group.

But Sharp's stock fell sharply after the deal was announced, hitting less than half of its original value and putting the deal in doubt. Taiwanese authorities returned a regulatory filing, questioning the profitability of the investment for Foxconn, and the companies have said they are renegotiating.

Since then the Japanese media has been abuzz about the fate of Sharp, with the stock rebounding in recent days as the two sides say they are nearing a new deal. The Nikkei, Japan's largest business newspaper, has reported that Sharp is negotiating with its banks for additional operating loans and mulling selling off non-core businesses such as its copier division.

Sharp said the early retirement program will cost about ¥27 billion (US$340 million), with the expenses already included in its current forecast. The company said earlier this month that it expects a fiscal loss of ¥250 billion in the current period through March. The forecast was eight times worse than it made just three months earlier.

The Osaka-based electronics company said it had 30,800 employees in Japan as of the end of July, with another 32,600 abroad.

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Jay Alabaster

IDG News Service

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