Tauron to Save $280 Million on Job Cuts as Prices Decline

Tauron Polska Energia SA, Poland’s second-largest utility, plans to cut 3,180 jobs and save 864 million zloty ($280 million) through 2015 after electricity prices slumped on the country’s economic slowdown.

State-controlled Tauron sees annual savings rising to 334 million zloty in 2015 from 239 million zloty this year, it said in a regulatory statement today. The majority of the amount will come from voluntary redundancy program, the company said.

“Our main target, which is increasing the company’s value for shareholders, won’t be achieved without firm actions in such a difficult environment,” Chief Financial Officer Krzysztof Zawadzki said in the statement.

Tauron is cutting costs as Polish power prices for next year declined 21 percent in 2012 and reached a record low of 170.75 zloty per megawatt-hour today. Its biggest competitor, PGE SA, also controlled by the Polish government, reduced its workforce by 1,459 people in the first half of 2012.

“Polish utilities are heavily overcrowded,” Pawel Puchalski, a Warsaw-based analyst at Bank Zachodni WBK SA, said by phone today. “It’s a good step but will help the company keep costs in check rather than lower them as inflation will increase the existing cost base.”

Shares Drop

Tauron shares declined 1.2 percent to 4.78 zloty at 4:39 p.m. in Warsaw, trimming this year’s advance to 0.6 percent. The stock slumped 11 percent in 2012.

The utility will cut about 1,580 jobs at its generation units, 1,400 at the distribution business and about 200 in its heating subsidiaries, reducing the total headcount by about 11 percent, according to its statement.

At least 400 employees left the Katowice-based utility in the first nine months of 2012 under its previous 1 billion-zloty cost-cutting plan, the company said in a regulatory statement in November.

Tauron had 28,069 employees and capacity of 5.4 gigawatt at the end of June, while PGE had 44,250 workers and 13.1 gigawatts of capacity. That compares with German utility EON SE’s 78,889 employees per 69,557 megawatts, according to its 2011 annual report.

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