Swiss paper totes up Novartis layoff count: 2,500

Novartis ($NVS) made headlines two weeks ago with news of accelerated cost-cutting that would deliver more than $1.9 billion in additional annual savings by year's end--and include job cuts worldwide. CEO Joe Jimenez didn't put a number to the planned layoffs, but did say that they'd be concentrated in sales and marketing, as well as in manufacturing.

Those cuts would follow thousands of recent layoffs. Just how many recent layoffs? Specific numbers haven't been forthcoming, but we did know that the cuts included 1,400 in the U.S. sales operation.

This week, a Swiss newspaper has figured that Novartis shed 2,500 jobs within the past year, including those 1,400 jobs in the U.S., which were the only ones formally announced in a press release. Piecemeal layoffs at various Novartis facilities have surfaced in press reports, confirmed by the company, but never actually announced, Tages Anzeiger reports (in a story with the somewhat overwrought headline, "The Discreet Jobkiller"). These include the shutdown of a 500-job factory in the U.K.

Spokesman Eric Althoff wouldn't confirm the newspaper's numbers for Reuters or Dow Jones, but did say that the payroll reductions over the past year included plant closures and selloffs in addition to the U.S. marketing layoffs. After announcing the ongoing cost-cutting Sept. 15, Jimenez told another Swiss paper, the Handelszeitung, that the company has spent too much money on marketing its drugs. And, in explaining the manufacturing cuts, Jimenez said that of his company's 83 factories, only half are used to full capacity, and it's time to pick up the slack.

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