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Concern over Xerox cost cutting

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Harry Keaney

The Stamford, Conn.-based Xerox corporation has launched what it described as "an aggressive turnaround program" that includes cutting a massive £1 billion in costs.

However, Xerox’s new boss in Ireland, Joe Browne, has said he is not aware of any plans that would affect the company’s operations in Dundalk, which employ 1,600 people.

Browne, 34, a native of Westmeath, said there would be a drive for increased productivity at the company’s Dublin operations, but that he would seek to protect staff numbers. The company currently employs 2,300 people in Ireland, but Browne was unable to say if a target of 4,000 employees would be reached by 2003.

Such is the concern about Xerox’s future in Ireland that the issue was discussed in the Dáil on Oct. 31.

Replying to a question from Louth Deputy Seamus Kirk, the minister for science, technology and commerce, Noel Treacy, said that while the full details of the cost-cutting measures had not been clarified, the expectation was that there would be no adverse implications for the Irish operation in either the short or medium term.

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"There are no plans to restructure the Irish activities," he said.

Minister Treacy stated that it was worth recalling that Xerox is the world’s sixth largest information technology company, employing more than 91,000 people in 130 countries worldwide.

Treacy added: "In 1998, the company carried out a review of its worldwide operations and decided to concentrate on the growth of digital-based products, such as color copiers and printers. It also adopted an improved business model for Europe, which included the provision of a number of business activities in Ireland. By the end of 2003, total employment levels are targeted to be 2,131 people in Dundalk and 1,995 people in Dublin, with a total investment in excess of £400 million.

"Indeed I am happy to note," said Treacy, "that current employment levels are ahead of target and now stand at 837 in Dundalk and 1,515 in Dublin."

The company’s financial returns for the first quarter of this year showed a loss of $167 million on sales, which were 4 percent lower than the comparable period in 1999, according to Treacy.

Despite the company’s problems, Xerox has reported growth in its color products and inkjet printers, which are important elements of the Irish operation, Treacy said.

AIB names its next chief

Allied Irish Bank has picked a new group chief executive. He is 55-year-old Cork native Michael Buckley, who will take over from the current boss, Tom Mulcahy, who will retire next June.

Buckley has been an executive director of AIB since 1995 and is currently head of the group’s Polish division. He is on the board of the group’s U.S. subsidiary, AllFirst, and Keppel Tat Lee, its 24.9 percent owned associate in Singapore.

Before joining AIB in 1991, Buckley had a distinguished career in stockbroking, the public service in Ireland and the European Union.

An immediate task facing Buckley will be finding a successor to Kevin Kelly, currently head of AIB’s core retail banking division in Ireland and Britain, who also retires next June.

Green taxes

Irish motorists pay some of the highest prices in the world for gas. A large part of the price is made up of government taxes, but despite the booming Irish economy and the resultant windfall in tax revenue, it seems drivers should expect little, if any, relief.

Now comes news of so-called "green taxes" aimed at cutting damaging emissions into the atmosphere. As part of its contribution toward cleaning up the environment, the government will, in 2002, introduce "green taxes" on fuels such as gas, diesel and oil, all of which produce carbon dioxide emissions.

Also, the Moneypoint Power Station, which produces 20 percent of Ireland’s power supply, must close or be converted from coal by 2008.

And methane emissions, mostly produced by cattle, are to be reduced by 2010, the equivalent of a 10 percent decrease in the number of livestock in the period.

A free Tiger

The Irish economy is now the third freest in the world, according to an annual index by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. Hong Kong came in first, Singapore was second, New Zealand was fourth with the United States and Luxembourg tied for fifth.

The Heritage Foundation stated that Ireland rose from seventh to third place due to a greater openness to foreign investment and the freedom of its banking and financial sector. But editors of the index warned that it may slip next year because of price controls imposed by the government.

North jobs

Almost a total of 600 jobs are to be created in Northern Ireland.

About 400 construction jobs are expected with the building of Premier Power’s new £200 million gas turbine plant in Ballylumford, Co. Antrim. About 190 jobs will be created during the next two years at three plants owned by poultry processing company Moy Park. The factories are at Craigovon, Co. Armagh; Moira, Co. Down; and Dungannon, Co. Tyrone.

Disappearing act

When they were asked to show up, they disappeared. That was the case with 4,000 young people in Ireland who were signing on for welfare payments. But as soon they were called for an interview by Fás, the employment and training agency, they signed off.

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