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Westinghouse Offers 4,600 Energy Unit Workers Buyouts

September 16, 1996|From Times Wire Services

MONROEVILLE, Pa. — Weak sales and a bloated payroll prompted Westinghouse Electric Corp. to offer buyout packages to 4,600 workers in its Energy Systems division.

"We have too many people, given the flat business the unit is experiencing," a company executive said. "The work force is larger than it needs to be."

The workers, who must decide by Oct. 11 and leave by Oct. 31, can receive a week's salary for each of their first five years of service, 1 1/2 weeks' pay for each year after that up to 15 years, and two weeks' salary for every year after 15, spokesman Vaughn Gilbert said.

The offer aims to cut costs and prepare the company for stiffer competition once the energy industry is deregulated, Gilbert said.

The Energy Systems unit employs 6,600 people, almost half of whom work in Pennsylvania.

Spokesman Kevin Ramundo said the company is not planning layoffs in the event that too few employees take the offer. But he did say, "We're constantly looking at our work force."

The Energy Systems unit services or makes parts for about 40% of the world's nuclear power plants. Many of the electric companies that run the plants are also cutting costs to get ready for expected deregulation.

The company is not expected to take any charges against third-quarter earnings as a result of the move. It is expected to announce in the fourth quarter its strategy to split its industrial and broadcast businesses.

Westinghouse has recently shifted its focus from the energy business to broadcasting. Since 1995, the company has purchased CBS Inc. and Infinity Broadcasting Corp.

"What the company is trying to do is improve its overall performance," said Nicholas Heyman of NatWest Securities in New York. Westinghouse is still a leader in the energy industry but is likely to separate its energy business from broadcasting, Heyman said.

"I guess they're trying to do a pruning before a spinoff," he said.

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