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Novartis job cuts to heavily impact management roles

Under construction: the new Novartis Pavilion in Basel. Keystone / Georgios Kefalas

Of the 1,400 job cuts announced by the pharma giant in Switzerland, up to half of them will involve staff in leadership positions, the company said on Monday.

For these executive roles, the consultation process has been finalised, and the first individuals concerned will be informed “in the coming weeks”, said the head of Novartis Switzerland Matthias Leuenberger at a media event in Zurich.

While Switzerland is no stranger to job cuts, such a big lay-off of management level staff is somewhat unprecedented in the country, a spokesperson for the Swiss Employees Association told the NZZ newspaper on Tuesday.

The cuts – part of a worldwide restructuring that will see 8,000 jobs shelved – are part of a streamlining that will see the merger of two previously separate Novartis divisions, Innovative Pharmaceuticals and Cancer Drugs.

The company also wants to simplify its global functions in finance, human resources, legal and communications, with the goal of saving at least CHF1 billion ($1.04 billion) by 2024.

The Swiss cuts will probably not come into effect until summer 2023, due to the terms of the employee contracts, Leuenberger said on Monday. He added that while some staff are concerned about the layoffs, they are “neither frustrated nor angry”, and apparently regard the situation as an opportunity to re-orient themselves.

Leuenberger also said that fewer staff will have the option of taking early retirement compared to a previous bout of layoffs in 2018.

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