TXU jobs will go

SUFFOLK-based staff at TXU Energi were today being warned more than half the jobs could go after the Powergen takeover.Powergen bosses hope the job losses can be absorbed by voluntary redundancy and early retirement.

By Paul Geater

SUFFOLK-based staff at TXU Energi were today being warned more than half the jobs could go after the Powergen takeover.

Powergen bosses hope the job losses can be absorbed by voluntary redundancy and early retirement.

But they haven't ruled out the possibility of compulsory job cuts.

They cannot put a figure on the number of jobs expected to go in the Ipswich area – but the figure seems likely to be several hundred.

The TXU brand name is set to disappear in the first few months of 2003, but spokesman Jonathan Smith said the only difference customers would notice would be a change to the name at the top of their bill.

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Mr Smith said: "We will be retaining a significant presence in the Ipswich area, but at this stage we cannot say how many people will be employed there."

"We have not been able to look closely at the business yet. Now we can so we shall start looking at how to integrate TXU with Powergen – there will inevitably be some duplication."

Although Powergen took over TXU Energi in October, it has not been able to start reorganising the company until now as the deal was given the final go-ahead by European Commission competition authorities last night.

Full integration of the two businesses will get under way early in the new year and staff were today finding out how the changes will affect them.

They were being told at a series of briefings at the County Hotel in Copdock today about how the companies would be merged – and that no n From page 1

jobs would be lost at all before the end of the year.

Powergen has still not decided where it will be based in the Ipswich area – either at TXU's former headquarters at Wherstead Park or in part of the new building currently going up in Russell Road.

"We have to consider whether to refurbish Wherstead Park or to take up part of the new building – we aren't likely to need both sites," said the Powergen spokesman.

He confirmed the company would not be renewing the leases on Suffolk House in Civic Drive or Constantine House when they expire within the next 18 months.

That is a clear indication of the scale of job losses facing the area. Wherstead Park can accommodate about 500 people. At present about 1,200 are employed by TXU in the Ipswich area.

The Powergen spokesman was not prepared to comment on the number of people likely to lose their jobs – but the fact that the company is considering concentrating all its staff at Wherstead is an indication of the scale of job losses anticipated.

Another change will be that Ipswich Town will be playing with Powergen on their shirts, not TXU, from 2003/4.

The TXU name is expected to disappear at the start of April, but Football League regulations do not allow the club to change its strip in any way during the season.

Powergen bosses are due to meet club officials early in the new year to discuss the sponsorship deal – which the company is understood to be keen to maintain.

Powergen chief executive Dr Paul Golby: "We are delighted to have received EC approval for our acquisition.

"Although we completed the acquisition on 21st October, we've been running the former TXU retail and generation assets as a stand-alone operation since that date.

"We're now very pleased to be able to move forward as one business."

Ipswich MP Chris Mole said: "I spoke to Dr Golby and he seemed confident that any job losses would be voluntary and not compulsory."

Powergen, owned by German energy giant E-On, may take some office space in the new building currently being built in Russell Road.

However, it is not prepared to take the lead in the construction work – it wants to lease space from the building's eventual new owners.

Ipswich council leader Peter Gardiner was concerned at the prospect of hundreds of job losses, but hoped they could be absorbed by other companies in the town.

"We are fortunate in Ipswich in that there are still a large number of firms who are expanding and taking on new staff, but any large-scale job losses like this could have a serious effect on the local economy," he said.