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NTL Adds to UK Jobs Woe

U.K. cable operator ntl group ltd. (Nasdaq: NTLI) is expected to announce Tuesday that it will cut about one third of its 17,000 employees following its merger with fellow cable firm Telewest Global Inc. (Nasdaq: TWSTY). (See NTL & Telewest: Together at Last!.)

Weekend reports in the U.K. press suggest NTL will announce a workforce reduction of anywhere between 4,000 and 6,000 when it announces its first-quarter results on Tuesday morning. The operator says it won't comment on the reports until Tuesday's financial announcement.

The reports come only days after Orange (NYSE: FTE) announced it is cutting its U.K. workforce by up to 2,000 as it merges its British mobile and broadband operations. Earlier this year, U.K. competitive carrier Cable and Wireless plc (NYSE: CWP) announced it is culling up to 3,000 staff, more than half its entire workforce. (See France Telecom Culls UK Staff and C&W Stuns With Job & Customer Cuts.)

NTL's expected job cuts are set to focus on the carrier's call center operations, much of which are expected to be outsourced overseas.

That will come as a blow to NTL's current customers, as the cable operator is already renowned for poor customer service and support. A new survey of 16,000 U.K. broadband customers commissioned by service comparison Website Uswitch.com found that, overall, NTL came bottom of the pile for customer satisfaction, and consistently scored badly in the nine support categories used in the survey. For example, only 58 percent of its customers are satisfied with the technical support, the lowest score among the U.K.'s broadband service providers.

When NTL announced its marriage with Telewest in October 2005, NTL said it was aiming to cut annual operating costs by £250 million (US$466 million) a year by 2008.

The cuts will not include any Virgin Mobile Telecoms Ltd. staff, as that acquisition is yet to close. (See Virgin Accepts NTL Offer.)

NTL's stock closed Friday at $27.67.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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