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'Significant' layoffs loom as Charter moves on major restructuring

Mon, 12/09/2002 - 7:00pm
Jeff Baumgartner

Tied to a sweeping effort to streamline operations, eliminate redundancies and cluster its cable divisions, Charter Communications said it will layoff a "significant" portion of its workforce by the end of 2003.

Charter, which counts 18,700 employees, said it would determine specifically how many employees would be affected by the end of the year. Likewise, the company said it will announce in February 2003 (when it announces its fourth-quarter financials) how much it will save via the streamlining.

"It is our expectation that the large majority of the restructuring will be completed within the first quarter of 2003," Charter President and CEO Carl Vogel said, in a press release. "Having rebuilt and upgraded about 87 percent of our plant, it's necessary now to identify and capitalize on efficiencies in our operating organization."

Tied to the restructuring, Charter, whose base of 6.7 million customers was built via more than a dozen acquisitions over the past three years, said it will consolidate its operations into five geographically clustered divisions. From there, the MSO will focus on "customer-oriented execution within key markets" serving 250,000 customers on average within the five divisions. Charter said it also will make unspecified changes at its St. Louis headquarters.

Each Charter division head will report to Margaret "Maggie" Bellville, a former Cox Communications exec who recently joined Charter as its executive vice president of operations. Many of Bellville's current duties overlap with Dave Barford, Charter's chief operating office, who presently is on paid leave.

The changes at Charter also come at a time in which a federal grand jury is probing the MSO over how it accounts for subscribers.

News of the restructuring gave Charter's stock a small boost, as shares rose 5.26 percent to $1.60 apiece in early trading Tuesday.

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