UPDATE 1-WebMD to cut 14 pct of workforce to reduce expenses

Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:34am EST

Dec 11 (Reuters) - Health information website WebMD Health Corp said it will cut around 250 jobs, or 14 percent of its workforce, to reduce costs.

The company, which had about 1700 employees according to Thomson Reuters data, said it would take a charge of about $6 million to $8 million in the fourth quarter, primarily on severance and other restructuring-related costs.

WebMD, which is a popular and long-trusted destination for checking health and disease related information, has lost its sheen for investors in recent times as it struggled to convert its growing user base into a steady revenue stream.

The company named a former Pfizer Inc executive Cavan Redmond as CEO earlier this year, entrusting the industry veteran with the task of reviving the website's flagging business.

Its previous CEO, Wayne Gattinella, resigned after the company took itself off the auction block in January.

WebMD also said on Tuesday that it plans to streamline its operations and focus resources on increasing user engagement, customer satisfaction and innovation, and expects these efforts to reduce annualized operating expenses by about $45 million.

While most of the job cuts will be effective at the end of the year, other cost saving actions will be implemented in the first quarter of 2013, the company said in a statement.

The company reported a third-quarter loss in November, compared with a profit in the year-ago quarter, and said revenue fell 13 percent.

WebMD's shares, which have lost nearly 40 percent of their value over the past six months, were down about 2 percent in premarket trade. They closed at $13.85 on Monday on the Nasdaq.

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