IBM Plans to Cut 14 Percent of Workforce in France, AFP Reports

International Business Machines Corp., the largest computer-services company, plans to cut as much as 14 percent of its French workforce, Agence France Presse reported, citing a union leader.

The firings will total 1,200 to 1,400 over two years, Gerard Chameau, a representative of the French Democratic Confederation of Labor, told the wire service.

IBM, based in Armonk, New York, is seeking to reduce expenses as economic weakness in Europe takes a toll on potential customers. The company is shifting resources to focus on growing markets such as Africa that have increasing demand for technology and consulting help.

Doug Shelton, an IBM spokesman, declined to comment. The company is scheduled to report first-quarter results today after the close of trading.

Chameau didn’t immediately reply to an e-mail message from Bloomberg News seeking comment.

IBM slid less than 1 percent to $208.53 at 12:28 p.m. in New York. The shares had climbed 9.5 percent this year through yesterday, outpacing the 8.8 percent gain of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.