Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sony Ericsson closing RTP operation, costing 400-plus jobs

Not good times at SE.

Sony Ericsson will close its Research Triangle Park operation by the third quarter of 2010, throwing 420 local employees out of work as part of a global consolidation of regional offices projected to cut 2,000 jobs companywide.

Workers were given the news Wednesday morning during a one-hour meeting at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Cary. As part of the consolidation, the London-based mobile handset maker will move its North American headquarters from Research Triangle Park to Atlanta. The company’s North American research and development operation will move from RTP to Redwood Shores, Calif., just outside San Francisco, where the company currently works on smart phones.

Karen Morris, vice president of marketing for the North American region, said Atlanta was chosen for the headquarters because of its proximity to major operations of AT&T, one of the company’s largest customers and because of the international airport connections available through Atlanta’s hub.

The consolidation comes a little more than a year after Sony Ericsson announced a company-wide cost cutting plan that led to the loss of 2,000 jobs. Sony Ericsson currently employs about 9,900 globally. Morris said the company will have meetings with individual employees in the first quarter. Some will be offered the opportunity to work in California or Atlanta. Those who are not will be offered severance.

The consolidation means Latin America will no longer be considered a separate region from North America. The combined regions will become Region Americas. The Miami office that led Latin America will close. Sony Ericsson will also close offices in San Diego and Seattle.

Sony Ericsson also will phase out its Chennai, India, office as the company’s India region merges with its Asia-Pacific region. The company is phasing out a development center in Kista, Sweden. Work there will move to the company’s Lund, Sweden, location. The consolidation will leave Sony Ericsson with four R&D centers: Lund, Tokyo, Beijing and Redwood Shores.

Sony Ericsson is the No. 4 handset maker with 4.9 percent market share, according to research firm IDC.


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