Singapore shipper Neptune Orient to cut 1,000 jobs

November 19, 2008
Singapore Democrats

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Associated Press

Singapore’s Neptune Orient Lines Ltd., Southeast Asia’s largest container shipper, said it will cut 1,000 jobs to help save $200 million next year as a global slowdown in trade accelerates.

Most of the layoffs will take place in North America, the company said Wednesday. Some 50 workers will be let go in Singapore.

“The negative conditions we are seeing in the market place are unprecedented in our industry’s history,” president and chief executive Ron Widdows said in a statement.

Slowing global economic activity has hurt company profits and led to widespread job cuts. Japan and Europe recently slipped into recession, while banking giant Citigroup Inc. said earlier this week it planned to cut 52,000 jobs.

Neptune Orient said last month it would lower capacity to reduce operating costs.

“Now, in view of the deteriorating market conditions, we take these additional steps,” Widdows said. “This reflects our considered view that what we are seeing goes beyond a normal cyclical downturn.”

The restructuring will incur a $33 million charge in the company’s fourth quarter financial results, and additional charges for 2009.

“The outlook for profitability in 2009 is grim,” the company said.

Neptune Orient will also move its regional headquarters in Oakland, California to a less expensive area, the company said, without specifying where.