Will biggest jobs cull in the world hit in a few days?

One commentator claims IBM is about to sack one in four employees - but the firm has called the claim ridiculous

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IBM

A report is claiming that a huge multinational firm is planning to sack an incredible 110,000 people around the world - including 5,000 in the UK. This accounts for a quarter of the workforce, and would make it the largest ever round of job losses in history.

The story was published by Forbes in the US, which said that the business will merge the three sides of the business - hardware, software and support - into one, and staff will be reorganised according to their job type.

It said that the move was largely driven by accountancy - as revenue has dropped for 11 quarters in a row and there is pressure to make the profit figures look better in future. It highlighted that the company had set aside £400 million for redundancies.

The Daily Mail repeated the story, highlighting that if the company is to lose a quarter of its staff, and that number is applied uniformly across the world, then 5,000 jobs will be lost among the 20,000 UK staff, employed in 24 offices from Portsmouth to Edinburgh.

Don't panic

IBM refused to respond to the claims, but according to the Mail, said: "IBM does not comment on rumours, even ridiculous or baseless ones. IBM has already announced the company has just taken a $600million [£400million] charge for workforce rebalancing. This equates to several thousand people, a mere fraction of what's been reported."

This would seem to be supported by the figures involved. According to the International Business Times, analysts estimate that each redundancy costs IBM around $70,000 - which implies they are expecting to make around 9,000 people redundant.

Forbes reported comments on the IBM Hong Kong blog, which said there would be several thousand redundancies: "That's several thousand people. Not 10,000, or 100,000. Moreover, IBM currently has job postings for more than 10,000 professionals worldwide, with more than half of them in growth areas such as cloud, analytics, security and mobile technologies." It added: "A little perspective on IBM's earnings is in order. The company still makes huge profit... $21 billion in operating pre-tax profit last year."

It seems, therefore, that while no UK IBM employee is likely to sleep particularly soundly in the coming weeks, there's no reason for a mass panic. It's worth them waiting to find out what the company really does plan - and what divisions are affected - before polishing off their CV.

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