Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Telus cuts staff to boost capital spending

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TELUS Corp. has stepped up its cost-cutting program, which has included shedding hundreds of jobs, and reduced its revenue and profit expectations due to the weak economy.

The Vancouver-based telecom company said Thursday it spent $28 million on workforce restructuring in the first quarter, four times more than in the same quarter last year.

It also hiked its full-year restructuring cost estimate to $125 million, from an earlier projection of $50 million to $75 million. That compares to restructuring costs of $59 million in 2008.

Telus reduced its full-time-equivalent staff by 1,160 in the first quarter -- cuts that chief executive Darren Entwistle said were needed to keep the company competitive while it increases investments in its network.

"Driving internal efficiencies to help fund them is the responsible thing to do, in fact I would argue it's a necessity," Entwistle said after the company's annual meeting in Ottawa.

Telus said the staff reductions include 500 domestic employees and the remaining primarily from seasonal reductions in both part-time staff and international business process outsourcing services.

Telus, Canada's second-largest telecommunications company after Bell Canada, has about 36,000 employees.

It has set aside $2.05 billion this year for capital projects -- the most in eight years -- to help build its next-generation wireless network based on the latest version of a technology known as high-speed packet access. So far about $700 million has been earmarked for infrastructure in Alberta, $500 million for B.C. and $300 million for Ontario.

Entwistle told shareholders that Telus is one of the few companies increasing its capital spending, which is "a smart thing to do."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 8, 2009 B8

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