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Nov 20, 2008

Astra Zeneca to cut 1400 Jobs

AstraZeneca, the UK's second largest pharmaceutical company, is to cut 1,400 global jobs in an effort to improve efficiency.

The company's site in Macclesfield will see 250 job losses by 2010, while facilities in Spain, Belgium and Sweden will close. Shares in AstraZeneca fell 4pc following the announcement.

David Smith, executive vice-president for operations, said: "I realise these changes are difficult for our affected employees, with whom we will be consulting in the coming months. We believe these changes are necessary for the long-term strength of the business.

"These moves are a continuation of AstraZeneca's programme to improve the organisation's productivity and efficiency. It moves the supply process closer to the customer, responding to their requirements and improving the security of the product wherever it is bought."

Just over 1,050 of the job cuts be will made by 2010 with the remainder, mainly positions in Sweden, made between 2010 and 2013. The restructuring relates to changes to AstraZeneca's global manufacturing and supply chain operations, which it hopes to make more efficient. The company will be investing more in its Wuxi plant in China as part of the move, an area of the world that helped AstraZeneca to announce a 29pc increase in profits last month.

The news comes a day after the company warned profits would be at the bottom end of expectations because of generic competition for its asthma drug pulmicort, which sent the shares down 11pc.

However, the company said today it had won a temporary restraining order against Teva Pharmaceutical Industries' generic alternative after it was approved by the FDA, the US equivalent of Nice, earlier this week.

The order will remain in place until January, when the a US court will decide on the validity of AstraZeneca's patent for pulmicort.

The company said its earnings per share forecast remained at $4.90 to $5.05 but that "actual performance within this range is dependent upon the performance of the business for the remainder of the year and further developments in the pulmicort situation, including the outcome of the preliminary injunction hearing on 25 November 2008".


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