Orange/Wanadoo Merger to Cost 2,000 Jobs

Seeking a "lean and agile" operation, parent company France Telecom will gradually cut 15% of the new entity's British workforce

Up to 2,000 Orange UK workers could lose their jobs in a major shake-up announced yesterday by parent company France Telecom.

As part of what France Telecom calls its NExT (New Experience in Telecoms) strategy, Orange UK is becoming a mobile and broadband service and absorbing France Telecom's British broadband service, Wanadoo UK.

According to the company's press release, the specific details of the merger will be worked out over the next few months but the intention is for the new Orange to be "lean and agile", with a lower cost base. This means that 15 per cent of jobs, or between 1,800 and 2,000 people, are to go.

Orange UK claims the job cuts will take place in the form of "redeployment, natural attrition, non-renewal of temporary short term contracts and, as a last resort, some redundancies".

The new Orange UK now has a single executive team, headed by former executive vice president Bernard Ghillebaert, with former Wanadoo chief executive Eric Abensur as his vice president responsible for broadband.

Wanadoo is one of the UK's largest ISPs.