AstraZeneca profits up as more job cuts announced

Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca on Thursday reported 2008 annual net profits were up 9 percent to $6.10 billion, but that the company plans to shed 7,000 more jobs by 2013.

The cuts will extend a cost-cutting programme that has already shed about 8,000 positions since 2007.

“New initiatives include further rationalization of the global supply chain, additional restructuring of the sales and marketing organization and business infrastructure,” AstraZeneca said in an annual earnings release.

“When fully implemented, these and other new business reshaping activities, combined with revised estimates for the original 2007 programme … will result in the overall programme delivering a reduction of approximately 15,000 positions by 2013.”

The programme will reap cost savings of $2.5 billion per year following its full implementation, compared with the previous annual forecast of $1.4 billion.

AstraZeneca said that it expected to be saving $2.1 billion before the end of 2010, with the rest of the savings achieved by 2013.

“All reductions in positions are subject to consultations with works councils, trade unions and other employee representatives and in accordance with local labour laws,” it added.

The group announced that its 2008 annual net profits rose 9 percent to $6.1 billion on strength in emerging markets.

Revenue gained 6.9 percent to $31.6 billion last year.

“AstraZeneca has delivered a robust performance in an increasingly challenging market environment,” chief executive David Brennan said in the statement.

“I am particularly pleased with our continued success in globalizing our business, as shown by our strong performance in emerging markets.

“We are also making good headway in further improving the efficiency of our organization. The expansion in the scope of our restructuring efforts is another important step towards sustaining our long-term competitiveness.”