DuPont Co. plans to cut 1,700 jobs in its home
state of Delaware in early 2016 as the agriculture-and-chemical giant pursues
$700 million in cost savings ahead of its planned merger with Dow Chemical Co.
In a letter to DuPont staff on Tuesday, Chief Executive Ed Breen also
sought to soften the holiday blow, announcing that Wilmington, its hometown
of 213 years, will be the headquarters of one of three planned spinoffs
following the Dow tie-up.
The layoffs, which represent about a quarter of DuPont’s
Delaware-based employees, come as DuPont consolidates some of its scientific
research operations and moves corporate functions to other locations that are
closer to its customers, Mr. Breen said.
DuPont already had been scaling back its Delaware workforce,
which has declined to about 6,100 from more than 7,000 before spinning off its
performance-chemicals division as Chemours Co. in July. DuPont,
which announced in mid-December a plan to cut about 10% of its global
workforce, hadn’t previously outlined how many of the affected positions would
be in Wilmington.
Under DuPont’s deal with longtime rival Dow, the pair plan
to strip out $3 billion in annual costs from the combined company before it
splits into three separate businesses, focused on agriculture, industrial
materials and specialty products including food ingredients and electronic
components. Those planned cuts are on top of the $700 million in annual savings
DuPont is seeking before the merger.
The cost cuts outlined in the planned Dow-DuPont merger,
which would create an entity with about $120 billion in market value, have
stoked, Mich., with both cities’ histories entwined with the companies. Dow
also has been shedding jobs, announcing in May a restructuring that would
eliminate 1,500 to 1,750 jobs, or about 2.8% to 3.3% of its 2014 staff level,
in a plan to help save $300 million in annual costs.
Mr. Breen wrote that the specialty-products company—which
will produce food ingredients, bullet-resistant fibers and solar-panel
components—will be based in Wilmington. The businesses generated a combined $13
billion in sales in 2014. A. Richard Heffron, president of the Delaware State
Chamber of Commerce, said the news was a blow but not a total surprise given
DuPont’s stepped-up efforts to cut costs in recent years, as the company’s
profits suffered from a rising U.S. dollar and slumping commodity prices.
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