Virgin Media axing 2,200 British jobs

Job cuts expected to begin in fourth-quarter 2009

LONDON -- Cable group Virgin Media became the latest U.K. media company to cut back on staff, announcing it will cull 2,200 British jobs -- about 15% of its work force -- by the end of 2010.

Chief executive Neil Berkett said Tuesday that the job losses, which are expected in the fourth quarter of 2009 and throughout 2010, are part of a restructuring program aimed at cutting costs.

They come a week after the Nasdaq-listed group announced net losses doubled to $190 million and slower-than-expected growth in its broadband business, leading to speculation that the cable TV and broadband operator might have to sell some of its businesses.

The cuts are likely to improve cash flow by 120 million pounds ($186 million) a year, the company said.

Berkett said the changes are "critical to ensuring Virgin Media is positioned to compete effectively and deliver on our customers' changing expectations."

"We recognize that this brings with it significant uncertainty for our people and the communities where they work," he said. "Throughout the process, we will be communicating as early and as openly as we can."

The news comes a week after Berkett agreed to a deal with banks to shelve repayments on its 4.3 billion pounds ($6.63 billion) debt until 2012, giving it an extra three years to refinance its loans.
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