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Suffolk building society jobs at risk

PUBLISHED: 22:17 16 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:39 03 March 2010

SUFFOLK jobs could be in danger after banking giant Abbey National announced that it could be set to reduce staff numbers by up to 3,000 as part of a cost-cutting drive.

SUFFOLK jobs could be in danger after banking giant Abbey National announced that it could be set to reduce staff numbers by up to 3,000 as part of a cost-cutting drive.

Figures, reported today, show that Abbey National is considering the move — with jobs at Suffolk's six branches under threat. The six branches are in Stowmarket, Felixstowe, Lowestoft, Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket and Sudbury.

The projected cuts are the equivalent to around one-tenth of Abbey National's workforce, in order to save £100 million, the Financial Times said.

A spokeswoman for UNIFI, the finance union, said they were unaware of the report and were unable to comment on any potential job losses in Suffolk.

She said: "If there are any redundancies UNIFI will be fighting to reduce the number of compulsory redundancies and ensure that job losses are managed through voluntary redundancies."

Britain's sixth largest bank has already said it is looking for a tighter control of costs after a gruelling few months in which half-year profits dived 34% and it parted company with chief executive Ian Harley.

Abbey National confirmed today a review of costs was still taking place but said that it was too early to comment on the likely outcome.

A spokeswoman added: "It is unlikely we will avoid redundancies but as yet there's no sense as to what the number will be."

The FT said it was thought the job cuts could be achieved in back offices and by the outsourcing of some information technology services.

The reduction is also likely to be managed through normal staff turnover, although any compulsory redundancies would be the first in the current economic cycle, the report added.

Abbey National's recent problems stem from its involvement in high-risk corporate lending in the United States.

Interim pre-tax profits fell after the group reported a £208 million increase in the amount it took to cover bad loans in its troubled corporate-based wholesale bank.

Just days before those results were unveiled in July, Abbey announced the departure of its chief executive — a position that has still to be filled.

Chairman Lord Burns has taken on executive duties and has pledged to steer the company out of trouble.

His priorities include a greater focus on the group's core retail financial services operation and a stronger control of costs.

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