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Vodafone Spain to axe a third of staff

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
Vodafone Spain to axe a third of staff
Logo of British telecom giant Vodafone atop the Spanish headquarters in Madrid. (Photo by GERARD JULIEN / AFP)

Vodafone Spain said Wednesday it was planning to axe almost 1,200 staff, more than a third of its workforce, weeks after its acquisition by an investment fund.

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The company has "submitted a redundancy plan to the unions for a maximum of 1,198 employees", accounting for nearly 37 percent of its staff of 3,268, it said in a statement.

"It is the only way to guarantee the company's future viability and competitiveness," it said.

It has decided on the redundancy plan due to "economic, productive and organisational factors" as a result of a "difficult financial and commercial slump".

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The move came shortly after Zegona completed its acquisition of Vodafone Spain for €5.0 billion, after getting the green light from Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's left-wing government.

Britain's Vodafone had in October said it had reached a deal to sell its Spanish business to the London-based investment fund as part of efforts to streamline its European operations following pressure from shareholders.

Last month, Zegona began a €500-million share buyback programme as part of its plans to return €2.0 billion to shareholders over 12 months.

It came after Vodafone agreed to merge its UK operations with Three UK, owned by Hong Kong-based CK Hutchison, to create Britain's biggest operator with 27 million customers.

Central to that was a push to accelerate the rollout of faster 5G connectivity in the UK -- a key focus for the group which has more than 300 million mobile customers in Europe and Africa.

5G expansion in the UK has been hampered by Britain's ban on Chinese giant Huawei, a major supplier of equipment for mobile telephone networks.

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