(Reuters) - General Electric Co (NYSE:GE) plans to cut 4,500 jobs in Europe, the first numbers to emerge on layoffs from the U.S. industrial conglomerate since it outlined plans to restructure and shed units last month.
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The cuts, which are linked to businesses GE bought from France's Alstom in 2015, will affect employees in Switzerland, Germany and Britain, said French newspaper Les Echos, which first reported the news on Tuesday.
A labor union source confirmed the layoff numbers to Reuters on Wednesday and said an official announcement was expected as early as Thursday.
GE did not confirm the numbers but said it was "reviewing its operations to ensure the business is best positioned to respond to our market realities and for long-term success." The company had presented a proposal to the European body representing legacy Alstom employees, it added.
Last month, General Electric CEO John Flannery outlined plans to reduce the manufacturing footprint of GE's power business to respond to a sharp fall in demand for fossil fuel power equipment. GE did not specify how many jobs would be cut or where.
The reported layoffs are part of GE Power's plan to integrate GE's energy connections and power businesses, seeking to save $1 billion in costs next year and another $500 million in 2019, William Blair analyst Nicholas Heymann said.
"Renewables will not have any reductions because the world is rapidly shifting from fossil to renewables as the cost of temporarily storing power becomes more affordable at $100/Kw for power packs," Heymann added, referring to GE's renewable energy business.
Due to the weakness in its power business, GE last month lowered its earnings forecast and slashed its dividend by half, expecting to save about $4 billion in cash annually.
GE aims to reduce overhead costs by $1 billion this year and $2 billion in 2018 as Flannery, who took the top job in August, prepares to refocus the 125-year-old conglomerate toward aviation, healthcare and power.
GE has already shed 25 percent of its corporate staff or some 1,500 jobs around the world.
Flannery's plans include hiving off at least $20 billion of assets through sales, spin-offs or other means and retaining only business that offer growth, a leading market position and a largeinstalled base.
GE shares have fallen about 44 percent since the start of the year. The stock is the year's worst performer on the Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI>.
(Reporting by Matthieu Protard in Paris and Rachit Vats in Bengaluru; Editing by Edmund Blair and Sai Sachin Ravikumar)