DuPont to lay off, concentrate on new markets

Moving `center of gravity' to China, India, elsewhere

December 02, 2003|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

WILMINGTON, Del. - DuPont Co. said yesterday that it will fire workers and withdraw from some product lines to save $900 million a year by 2005.

Chief Executive Officer Chad Holliday said in a conference call that he also wants to expand operations in China, Eastern Europe, Brazil and other emerging markets.

The job cuts will be in addition to 18,000 workers, or 23 percent of DuPont's total work force, who will leave the second-biggest U.S. chemical maker through the sale of its Invista synthetic fibers business next year.

Holliday is cutting costs to counter high raw-materials costs and slumping sales in some businesses.

"It's a step in the right direction," said John Forelli, who follows the chemical industry and helps manage about $10 billion for Independence Investment LLC.

"The unanswered question related to this restructuring is how much potential growth might be lost as a result of these restructuring actions."

Last month, DuPont agreed to sell its Invista nylon, polyester and Lycra business to Koch Industries Inc. for $4.4 billion to focus on faster-growing lines. The chemical maker, which invented nylon and Lycra, is selling businesses to concentrate on flat-screen computer technology, Corian countertops and other products.

Holliday wouldn't say how many jobs will be cut besides those eliminated with the acquisition. DuPont has 78,000 employees, including 18,000 in the Invista business, the company said.

Holliday said the company wants to realign some of its operations to focus outside the United States and Europe. For example, DuPont wants to expand in China where it sells chemicals and plastics to car and electronics makers.

"Our customer base is moving," Holliday said. "We're going to move the center of gravity of this company to China, India and other emerging markets."

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