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Advantest aims for 26% reduction in workforce

ADVANTEST Corp, the world's biggest maker of memory-chip testers, seeks 26 percent cut in jobs by March to help weather a slump in demand that led it to forecast its first loss in six years.

The net loss will probably reach 78 billion yen (US$802.6 million) in the year ending March 31, compared with a profit of 16.6 billion yen a year earlier, the Tokyo-based company said yesterday. The projection is more than the median 17 billion yen deficit of 13 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg News.

Advantest joins Japanese companies including NEC Corp, Panasonic Corp and Honda Motor Co in slashing jobs as the world's second-largest economy is projected to contract at a record pace next fiscal year. As many as 124,802 temporary workers will lose their jobs in the six months to March 31, according to a January survey by Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

"Demand will continue to slump in 2009, exceeding the decline last year, and it's difficult to expect a speedy recovery next year," President Toshio Maruyama said.

Advantest aims to reduce its workforce to 3,400 employees from about 4,600, eliminating almost all of its temporary jobs, the company said. It expects about 450 full-time employees to accept early retirement in the period, Maruyama said in Tokyo.

The company will also discontinue unprofitable product lines, curtail some research spending, cut executive and managerial salaries and cancel bonuses.

The restructuring moves will cost Advantest 25 billion yen in the fourth quarter ending March 31, according to the company.



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