Altria more layoffs in February 2009..


February 22, 2009 - Altria Group Inc., the parent company of cigarette maker Philip Morris USA, announced planning job cuts (in its Client Services unit)in its Richmond-area operations by the end of February 2009.

On Friday, February 20th Altria Group Inc. said that it expects a wave of layoffs this month at its Richmond-area operations but declined to specify the number of employees affected. Brendan McCormick, company spokesman said, Job reductions have been ongoing for some time, but a "larger wave" of employees are departing this month. The cuts are expected to come from the Henrico County-based company's Altria Client Services unit, which provides administrative services for its subsidiaries, such as Philip Morris USA.

Altria has been cutting costs to save about $1.5 billion by 2011. It also has been reorganizing its operations after acquiring UST Inc., the nation's largest moist-snuff company, for $10.4 billion in January. UST's headquarters operations will move here from Greenwich, Conn., this year.

Altria also is adjusting headcount not because of the recession but in response to ongoing declines in cigarette consumption in the United States, company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael E. Szymanczyk said last month during a conference call with industry analysts and reporters. (Altria's 2008 Full Year & 4th Quarter Results) Goldman Sachs tobacco analyst Judy Hong said in a research note said the likely increase in the federal excise tax in cigarettes could lead to a 7 percent decline in industry-wide volume in 2009.

Reference: Altria: More job cuts this month by JOHN REID BLACKWELL, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/21/2009.

Related news brief: Philip Morris (PM) to close N.C. cigarette plant..

Click on image to enlarge.., image by Steve Helber - The Associated Press

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