Philips to Lay Off 1,600 Workers

Number represents 5% of its workforce

Philips will cut "about five percent" of its 32,000 strong workforce in the medical division worldwide, affecting 1,600 workers, a company spokesman said.

"We want to take all possible measures despite the sluggish economic scenario at present to maintain our profit levels and even improve them if possible," said Arent Jan Hesselink.

Most of the medical division employees are based in the U.S. "but this does not mean that workers will lose jobs where they are most in numbers."

Hesselink said the company wanted to be "as best prepared to face the effects of reduced economic growth or even recession, which many people are predicting will follow soon. The next step will be for us to see what eventually happens and when. We then have to negotiate with the people."

Philips head Gerard Kleisterlee said earlier this month: "Given the limited scope of the present economic scenario we have taken certain measures to maintain our profits."

Philips reported net income of 357 million euros in the third quarter of this year, 7.8% higher than the previous quarter, and sales of 6.3 billion.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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