BCE to slash 1,900 jobs


Montreal - Despite a 29% increase in cash baseline earnings to $302 million in the first quarter of 2001, ended March 31, compared with proforma cash baseline earnings for the same quarter last year, BCE, the parent company of Bell Canada and CTV, announced plans to lay off over 1,900 people.

Total revenue for the quarter was $5.5 billion, a 6% increase compared with proforma revenue of last year. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) were $1.8 billion, up 4% compared with proforma EBITDA for the first three months of 2000.

"This is the first full quarter of operation of BCE's new structure and our results demonstrate our commitment to execute well on our strategy," said Jean Monty, chairman and CEO of BCE. "Our core operations - Bell Canada, Bell Globemedia, Teleglobe and BCE Emergis all contributed strong results achieving a revenue increase of 12%, EBITDA growth of 10%, and baseline earnings growth of 34%."

Other operational highlights include: DSL high speed Internet subscribers grew 39% over Q4 2000 to 466,000; Bell Canada's data revenue was up 31% to $810 million; cellular and PCS subscribers; grew 30% to reach 2.9 million; Bell ExpressVu subscribers grew 70% to 796,000; Bell Globemedia revenue was up 11% to $306 million; Teleglobe data revenue grew 43% to $153 million; BCE Emergis revenue reached $143 million.

The job cuts are coming thanks to "some softening" in the North American economy that will push BCE's 2001 revenue to the "lower end" of previous forecasts, said Monty during his quarterly conference call to media and analysts last week. While BCE is standing by its estimate of 8% to 10% growth in revenue with the total between $23 billion and $25 billion, "there are some of our units, particularly Teleglobe, that are affected more than others," he said.

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