02:07 PM

Ericsson Rings Up More Losses, Plans To Ax 7,000 More Jobs

The wireless equipment supplier posted a $516 million loss for its most recent quarter and has lost more than $5 billion since the start of 2001

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) -- LM Ericsson, the world's largest supplier of equipment for wireless phone networks, said Tuesday it would eliminate another 7,000 jobs, or 11 percent of its work force, as it posted its eighth consecutive quarterly loss.

The Stockholm-based telecommunications giant lost 4.3 billion kronor ($516 million ) during the quarter ending March 31, or 0.27 kronor (3 cents) a share, compared with a loss of 3 billion kronor, or 0.27 kronor a share, a year earlier.

The figures mean Ericsson has lost nearly 45 billion kronor ($5.4 billion) since the beginning of 2001.

First-quarter sales fell 30 percent to 25.9 billion kronor ($3.1 billion), compared with 36.9. billion kronor in the year-ago period.

The figures were in line with most analysts' expectations.

Ericsson and other telecom-equipment makers have been hit hard as operators have continued to curb spending on their current networks and delay plans for new, faster wireless networks.

Chief executive Carl-Henric Svanberg, who took over earlier this month from Kurt Hellstroem, remained hopeful that the company would post a profit during 2003. But he said cost-cutting initiatives _ including the further elimination of jobs _ would continue through the year.

"We are heading in the right direction, but a lot more can be done to simplify our way of working further reduce costs," Svanberg said.

He said a new restructuring program aims to cut annual costs by 13 billion kronor ($1.6 billion).

Svanberg also said the company will eliminate another 7,000 jobs, bringing its work force to around 54,000 by the end of the year and to less than 48,000 next year. Currently, the company employs more than 60,900 workers.

When Ericsson began cutting costs in 2001, it employed 107,000 workers worldwide.

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