Medtronic to shed 1,500-1,800 jobs

Reeling from a 69 percent drop in fourth-quarter profits, Medtronic says it's going to slash 1,500 to 1,800 jobs as part of an effort to streamline its operations. Some 400 workers already have accepted buyout offers, and they'll depart at the end of this month. So that leaves another 1,100 to 1,400 pink slips to go by the end of June.

The planned cuts come on top of a previous restructuring program, which resulted in a $27 million charge to earnings during Medtronic's most recent quarter, plus another as-yet-to-be-specified charge for the current quarter. And the layoffs aren't a complete surprise; CEO William Hawkins had discussed the possibility with employees back in February.

In other cost-cutting moves, Medtronic has instituted a salary freeze and plans to shave executive pay by 5 percent.

Meanwhile, the company is actually hiring in some areas. In fact, it's among the very few that are staffing up on the sales side. CFO Gary Ellis said during a conference call with analysts and media that some 500 sales jobs are being added, with 700 new jobs on the roster overall during this fiscal year.

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