Copy of 2023-02-20T094846Z_1238113591_RC2WEZ97NJFB_RTRMADP_3_ERICSSON-LAYOFFS-1677253276239
Shares shares of Ericsson fell less than 1 per cent at 2:53 pm in Stockholm on Friday. Image Credit: REUTERS

Stockholm: Ericsson, one of the world’s biggest providers of 5G networking equipment, plans to cut 8,500 staff worldwide to reduce expenses after the market for its telecommunications gear stopped growing.

The bulk of the cuts at the Swedish maker of mobile networks will take place during the first half of the year, although some will be in 2024, the company said in an emailed response to questions on Friday.

The Ericsson job cuts are the latest announced in a telecommunications industry that has stumbled due to the weakening global economy and rising inflation. UK telecom group Vodafone Group announced plans for hundreds of layoffs earlier this year.

“We see a potential to simplify and become more efficient throughout the company, especially when it comes to structural costs,” Ericsson spokesperson Jenny Hedelin said.

Shares shares of Ericsson fell less than 1 per cent at 2:53 pm in Stockholm on Friday. The stock is down 4.6 per cent this year after sliding almost 40 per cent in 2022. The cuts are equivalent to 8 per cent of Ericsson’s workforce and part of a plan laid out in December to cut 9 billion kronor ($862 million) in costs by the end of 2023. The company had previously forecast that the savings this year will come mainly from reductions in the costs of goods sold.

Activist shareholder Cevian Capital AB, which has been calling for Ericsson to “drain the swamp of losses,” said it welcomed the move.

“This is an important step to tackle the profitability problems in the structure,” Christer Gardell, Cevian’s managing partner and founder, said in emailed comments.

Cevian, which first invested in the Swedish telecommunications networks maker in 2017 and now has a stake of about 5 per cent, is looking to name a director to the board at an upcoming shareholder meeting in March. Ericsson reported a bigger-than-expected drop in fourth-quarter earnings last month after some of its major 5G customers pulled back on spending in an uncertain economic environment.