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July 8, 1993


By CBR Staff Writer

Bernard Pache is clearly adept at tailoring his remarks to his audience, but it will come as a shock to outsiders that the Compagnie des Machines Bull SA chairman felt able to highlight to a French parliamentary committee as a plus the fact that the company had cut fewer jobs than its major competitors – which simply implies that the company is more bloated and less able to compete effectively than it could be. Pache told the deputies that the deal between its Zenith Data Systems unit and Packard Bell Electronics Corp would open up a new market. He said that instead of selling Zenith when times in the personal computer market got bad, Bull had chosen to increase volumes through its partnership with Packard Bell. Pache told deputies that the link would open up the mass market of general distribution to Zenith’s portable computers and enable costs to be redistributed between the firms. Pache said Zenith was the major source of Bull’s losses because of the price war in personal computers and low volumes. He came under fire from some, who said Bull lacked industrial logic or a clear strategy and was sacrificing jobs to cut costs. One deputy described the acquisition of Zenith as an American adventure for Bull. Pache noted that other computer companies were cutting far more jobs than Bull, but he also had to report that turnover is currently 10% below its year-ago levels, which suggests major losses for this year. On Monday, Bull officials, announcing the firm would cut 18% of its workforce over the next two years, said they could hope for the firm to break even in 1995.

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