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Sasol’s ‘Project Phoenix’ May Cut 1,000 Jobs, Union Says

Sasol Ltd. may cut as many as 1,000 jobs as the world’s largest producer of gasoline from coal prepares a reorganization, the Solidarity union said.

“They are reducing their costs,” Marius Croucamp, a spokesman for Solidarity at the Johannesburg-based company, said by phone. Talks with the union started in late November after Sasol and Boston-based management consultancy Bain & Co. developed proposals to reduce the company’s size, he said.

Sasol plans to save 3 billion rand ($279 million) from cost cuts within the next two to three years, the company said in a Sept. 9 presentation. It has forecast “strong” earnings growth for the fiscal year ending June because of higher oil and chemicals prices and favorable foreign currency movements.

Sasol, which advanced 42 percent in Johannesburg trading last year, was little changed at 514.50 rand at 3:15 p.m., valuing the company at about $31 billion. The company employs more than 35,000 people in 37 countries.

“Due to the progress made in designing the new operating model, we are contemplating potential people impacts as a result of this program,” Alex Anderson, a spokesman for Sasol, said in an e-mail response to questions. “We anticipate that for at least the next six months the impacts will be limited to the senior management structures in the organization.”

The initiative by Sasol and Bain, called “Project Phoenix,” could result in about 1,000 job losses, Croucamp said. “Our concern is with job cuts, extended families are affected and there’s no alternative for them to go to in the job market.”

Sasol’s board on Nov. 1 approved an executive committee to “align the the group’s top management with our new operating platform, effective 1 July 2014,” Anderson said. “Because it’s unfolding as we go along we don’t know what the final structure is going to look like,” he said.

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