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Meyer Burger to speed job cuts as outlook darkens

Switzerland’s Meyer Burger, among the world’s largest producer of PV production equipment, says it will “accelerate” its jobs-cutting programme as it lowers its earnings outlook for 2012

Having acquired a number of companies in recent years, including Roth & Rau, Hennecke and Diamond Wire, Meyer Burger has been working to swiftly consolidate its operations as orders from its PV manufacturing customers have dried up.

In September Meyer Burger pulled the plug on its facilities in Lyss, central Switzerland, intending to bring all its Swiss production under one roof in Thun.

But the company acknowledges it has not gone far enough or fast enough – and will be “accelerating and expanding” the consolidation process.

Meyer Burger has already reduced its roster of permanent employees by 19% since the beginning of the year – more than previously announced – and it says it will fire nearly 300 more in the coming months.

At least 50 of the cuts will come within Roth & Rau at Hohenstein-Ernstthal in Germany.

Meyer Burger announced the cuts as it acknowledged that full-year sales will come in around CHf600m ($637m), lower than expected.

The company, which recently reported its first quarterly loss since going public in 2006, now says it will report negative earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation of CHF20m-CHF40m for fiscal year 2012.

Meyer Burger says it remains bullish about the long-term prospects for the PV industry, but it is “very difficult” to discern when the sector’s fortunes will reverse.

Significant future demand for PV production machines will come from places like South America, Africa and the Middle East, it claims.