Computer Sciences to Restructure

The IT services giant says it is retrenching its internal operations and planning significant layoffs in Europe as the firm's directors consider possible buyout offers.

Computer Sciences Corp. announced that it will undergo major internal restructuring over the next year, even as the companys directors consider potential buyout offers from Wall Street.

CSC Chairman Van Honeycutt detailed the plans in a statement, saying that the restructuring program will be aimed squarely at streamlining the IT services giants worldwide operations, and specifically predicting significant jobs cuts in regions where he said the firm is overstaffed.

The executive said the cost-cutting plan will involve the layoff of approximately 4,300 employees during the companys fiscal 2007, which began April 1, and about 700 employees in 2008. CSC said that the majority of the layoffs will occur in Europe, but indicated that its plans will vary by country based on local legal requirements and internal reviews.

Excluding pre-tax restructuring charges of approximately $345 million that CSC plans to report in fiscal 2007, and approximately $30 million in similar charges planned for fiscal 2008, the company said it expects the restructuring plan to result in pre-tax savings of approximately $150 million in fiscal 2007 and about $300 million in fiscal 2008.

CSC is reported to have close to 79,000 employees and had sales of over $14 billion in 2005.

"For some time it has been apparent to us, and to other companies in our industry, that there is excess capacity in certain geographies, particularly Europe," Honeycutt said. "After lengthy consideration, we have decided that this is an appropriate time to deal with the issue through a restructuring; this action is designed to enhance shareholder value regardless of any strategic alternatives we may explore."

The strategic alternatives referenced by Honeycutt include a potential sale of the firm. CSCs board of directors said they have decided to explore new possibilities to buoy the companys stock value, including a sale of the company. The company said it has retained Goldman, Sachs & Co. as its financial adviser in the acquisition process.

However, the companys board warned that there is no guarantee that a sale will be made and said it does not intend to share any developments in the process of finding a buyer unless it has already approved a specific transaction.

Last October, CSC was reportedly going to be bought by private equity firm Blackstone Group and Lockheed Martin Corp. It never happened. Then in January, Hewlett-Packard and Blackstone were in the running. That deal never happened either. Both stories were initially reported in the Wall Street Journal and followed by every other news outlet.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read more about HPs interest in CSC.

Now the rumor mill is picking up steam again. UBS analyst Adam B. Frisch opined in a research note March 15 that CSCs story is getting more interesting. Calls from investors have increased recently about CSC being acquired and merger talks may resume at some point, wrote Frisch.

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