January 16, 2009 / 8:04 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 1-Pfizer plans to cut up 2,400 sales staff-WSJ

NEW YORK, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Pfizer Inc (PFE.N), the world’s largest drugmaker, plans to lay off as many as 2,400 sales staff this quarter in a continuing reorganization, the Wall Street Journal said in its Friday online edition.

The job cuts will involve sales representatives and middle managers and represent about one-third of the company’s marketing work force, the report said, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Pfizer declined to comment, but noted it is making a concerted effort to reshape itself into smaller, more focused business units.

The New York-based drugmaker has already cut about 15,000 jobs in the past two years, including 800 research jobs earlier this week, to downsize before the company’s $12 billion-a-year Lipitor cholesterol drug faces generic competition in 2011.

“We will continually look for ways to operate our business in a more effective an efficient way,” company spokesman Ray Kerins said on Friday.

Jon LeCroy, an analyst with Natixis Bleichroeder, said Wall Street is expecting Pfizer to announce its next big wave of job cuts this month, after having failed to do so by the end of 2008.

“People had thought they’d cut a massive amount of jobs prior to the New Year.”

Pfizer could lay out its job-cut plans on Jan. 28, when it reports fourth quarter earnings, other analysts said.

“It’s a necessary move; Pfizer has to right-size itself before they lose Lipitor,” LeCroy said of expected sizable new layoffs.

In addition to cuts in staff, LeCroy said the company will likely need to cut spending in other major areas, such as advertising and manufacturing. (Reporting by Ransdell Pierson, editing by Dave Zimmerman)

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