EnBW to cut 1,350 jobs and speed up cost cuts

FRANKFURT Fri Dec 21, 2012 7:21am EST

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FRANKFURT Dec 21 (Reuters) - EnBW, Germany's No.3 utility, will cut nearly 7 percent of its workforce in a response to weak energy demand and its home country's decision to exit nuclear power.

The group said on Friday it would cut 1,350 jobs, or 6.8 percent of staff, and added it would speed up its "Fokus" savings programme, now aiming to complete measures to improve operating earnings by an annual 750 million euros ($993 million) by the end of next year, instead of 2014.

"EnBW's acceleration of its efficiency programme is the logical response to the persistently difficult general and market conditions in the energy industry," the group said.

EnBW has been dealt a massive blow, along with its larger rivals E.ON and RWE, by Germany's decision last year to end all nuclear power generation by 2022 and immediately shut 40 percent, including two of the company's reactors.

Weak demand for electricity because of Europe's economic crisis has also reduced revenue and utilisation of capacity at its power plants and has curbed the company's trading activities.

Both E.ON and RWE have announced job cuts, jointly slashing more than 21,000 jobs in an attempt to cope with the structural changes in their industry.

At 1201 GMT, EnBW's thinly-traded shares were down 1.6 percent, while RWE's shares fell 0.7 percent. Shares in E.ON, Germany's largest utility, were down 0.4 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 600 utilities index was flat.

EnBW is 46.75 percent-owned by the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, with another 46.75 percent owned by nine of the state's municipalities. The market free-float is just 0.37 percent, which means few analysts track it. ($1 = 0.7555 euros) (Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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