Honeywell International Inc. will close its semiconductor chip foundry in Columbia and lay off 56 people by the end of the second quarter of 2001, company officials said yesterday.
About 85 employees total will have been dismissed once the Microelectronics & Technology Center, on Old Annapolis Road, closes next year.
Fifteen employees have relocated to another company unit - Honeywell Technology Solutions Inc. - at Columbia Gateway office park, according to Jeff Zhou, general manager of the plant.
Honeywell's Gateway location houses its new satellite command center that gathers information from space-based observations under contracts with government agencies and commercial enterprises.
The Columbia closing comes as Honeywell prepares for its $51 billion acquisition by General Electric Co. next year. The Morris Township, N.J.-based company already had announced plans this year to cut about 17,000 jobs to streamline operations that ballooned after its 1999 mergers with AlliedSignal Inc. and Pittway Corp., a maker of building-security and fire alarms.
The job cuts will include engineers, technicians and operators at the facility, said Zhou. He said the company will dismiss 20 employees in the first quarter and 36 employees in the second quarter. Some employees were laid off in recent weeks in preparation for the closing, he said.
Zhou added that the center has already held a job fair for its employees and plans to hold another next week, with an outside employer coming in to interview Honeywell employees.
"This closing of the site is very specific for the Honeywell-AlliedSignal merger," Zhou said. "We've designed a very rich bonus package for people. We're helping people find a new job ... most people have already had an offer or have a very good potential employer."
He declined to name the employer that will be interviewing Honeywell employees next week.
The chip foundry unit is a small part of Honeywell, which employs about 120,000 people in 95 countries and had sales of $23.7 billion and net income of $1.5 billion in 1999.
The company makes a wide range of products, from aircraft engines and performance materials to specialty chemicals and home automation controls.
Honeywell will hold a shareholders meeting Jan. 10 at its New Jersey headquarters to seek approval of its proposed merger with GE.
Honeywell's shares closed in trading on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday at $49.94, up $1.19.