Lonza whacking 500 jobs, 400 at Swiss API plant

Lonza will take the job ax to nearly 14% of the jobs at its massive API manufacturing site in Visp, Switzerland as efforts to cut costs there continue.

The company said it is whacking 500 jobs in total, about 400 of them at Visp, where 2,890 people work. But managers were not entirely left out. Another 100 management positions will be cut globally, the company said in a statement. Most of the reduction will come through transfers, attrition, retirements and letting contract workers go, the company said.

The company has been working diligently to cut costs at the Visp site, its largest and in the home country. It has to get costs down and margins up to compete with lower-cost manufacturing in other parts of the world. It also has to pay down the debt it took on with the $1.35 billion acquisition last year of U.S.-based Arch Chemicals.

CEO Richard Ridinger, who was brought in earlier this year to get on top of the debt issue, in June handed what he terms as "the Visp challenge" to a new management team at Visp.  Without being specific about what operational changes are in store at the plant, Ridinger said Wednesday, "We will focus all activities on value creation, by reducing the complexity of the site, improving the cost structure and flexibility. This will also include a review of business models and optimization of the portfolio. These measures will help increase profitability and make Visp a competitive site."

The company also reported that its custom manufacturing division was seeing good demand in both chemical and biological plants and that it had nabbed "two long-term commercial-scale contracts" for biologic products that had already launched. The company recently introduced its gene-expression platform for cell line development in Asian countries. 

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