After AT&T merger, Cingular Wireless expects to cut 6,800 jobs

The layoffs are expected to be spread out over 18 months

With its acquisition of AT&T Wireless Services Inc. complete (see story), Cingular Wireless LLC is preparing to lay off about 10% of its 68,000 workers over a 12-to-18-month period starting next year.

That estimate was made public for the first time yesterday by Cingular CEO Stan Sigman in an interview with The Associated Press.

Clay Owen, a Cingular spokesman at the company's Atlanta headquarters, today confirmed that the cuts will pare about 6,800 workers from across the company. No specifics are yet available about which jobs will be affected, he said, but departments within the company have completed staffing evaluations, which are being reviewed.

"We said all along ... that there would be cuts from this merger," Owen said.

But what had not been disclosed until yesterday was the estimated number of workers affected. "We haven't gotten the hard-and-fast numbers yet," he said.

The union of Cingular and AT&T was announced in February (see story), with Cingular buying AT&T Wireless for about $41 billion, or $15 per share. The deal required approval from AT&T Wireless shareholders and federal regulatory authorities.

Cingular was formed in 2000 and is jointly owned by SBC Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. Before the merger, the company had more than 24 million subscribers and in 2003 earned revenues of approximately $15.5 billion.

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