3M Offers Retirement to 4,900 in First U.S. Cut Since 2009

3M Co. (MMM) offered early retirement to about 4,900 U.S. employees to cut costs as electronics-related sales slow, marking the company’s first workforce reduction since 2009.

The St. Paul, Minnesota-based maker of Scotch-Brite sponges, Nexcare thermometers and Novec electronic coatings, expects about 1,000 workers to accept the offer, said Jacqueline Berry, a 3M spokeswoman. Employees were notified of the plan Dec. 12, she said in a telephone interview today.

3M is seeking to reduce costs after lowering its 2011 earnings forecast in October as sales declined for electronic parts because of lower demand for liquid-crystal-display televisions. The company predicted earnings of as much as $5.95 a share, down from an earlier maximum estimate of $6.25. 3M on Dec. 6 forecast 2012 earnings of $6.25 to $6.50.

The company cut its workforce by about 5,800 people in 2008 and 2009 amid the deepest U.S. recession since the 1930s. An additional 700 workers left under an early-retirement offer in 2009, Berry said.

To be eligible for the new program, workers must be at least 59 years old with five years of pension service, or at least 55 years old with 30 years of service, Berry said. Eligible workers must decide by Jan. 31, and the reductions will take place at the beginning of February.

The company has about 80,000 workers worldwide, of which 33,000 are based in the U.S., according to a company filing.

Shares of 3M fell 1.1 percent to $78.51 at the close in New York.

To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Black in Dallas at tblack@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net

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