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July 6, 1993


By CBR Staff Writer

Compagnie des Machines Bull SA says its staff reductions of 6,500 between now and the end of 1994 will have some effect on its research and development effort, but said it is too early to say exactly what the effect will be. Among the 6,500 positions to be cut, 1,500 (1,000 in France, 500 in US) will come out of Bull’s Business Systems Products division, which contains all research and development. It contends, however, that French press reports that 1,000 people would be cut from purely R&D positions is not valid. A lot of people in Business Systems Products are not in R&D; there are also marketing, sales, and technical support people. The objective of this staff reduction is to reduce administrative overhead, so I’m sure those people will be included, too, he said. The cuts will, however, be felt. I’m sure some programmes will be cut. R&D accounted for 12% of our revenue in 1992, so if our revenue declines, we have to cut our R&D, but it’s premature to say which programmes will go, he said. The spokesman noted that some of Bull’s most significant development – for its high-performance mainframes and most of its Unix workstations- comes from partners NEC Corp and IBM Corp. He added, however, that the cuts would still leave 4,500 people in Business Systems Products. Another Bull spokesman said the cuts in research and development were eliminating excess weight and would allow us to focus on the areas we’re good at, which is enterprise servers, open servers, DCM Distributed Computing Model and software. The implicit meaning seems to be that any development outside these areas would be fair game for the axe. The impression that Bull is cutting a substantial portion of its research staff was one of the reasons the major union, la Confederation Generale du Travail refused to support the move. In this case, we passing beyond the critical ceiling for the survival of the enterprise, the union was quoted as saying in La Tribune-Defosses. The union representative stressed that the cuts in research amounted to cutting off the future of the group. Some 2,500 positions all told will be cut in France, with the rest coming from throughout the world, but the US cuts will be about the same as in France.

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