Strategy

At Yahoo and Merrill, Jobs Are in Peril

John Thain says Merrill Lynch expects thousands of cuts, while Yahoo sees more than 1,000 layoffs in broader budget-paring.
Stephen TaubOctober 20, 2008

Merrill Lynch & Co. has joined a parade of companies announcing major job-cut prospects, with CEO John Thain telling the press that the investment banking giant expects thousands of job cuts after it is acquired by Bank of America.

Thain said to Bloomberg News that most of the cuts will impact information technology, operations and finance while jobs won’t be eliminated in the fixed income and commodities divisions.

“We haven’t mapped it out in terms of actual number of people, but we are committed to saving $7 billion across the combined platforms, and that will be a challenge,” Thain told Bloomberg in Dubai. “Between our two companies it will be clearly thousands of jobs.”

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Yahoo Inc. also is putting together a significant cost-cutting plan that will call for eliminating more than the 1,000 jobs that Yahoo announced it was cutting in January, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The specific cuts probably will not be announced for at least a few weeks, but are likely to come from across the company, according to the report. However, the Journal said that some Yahoo managers have been asked to identify operating budget cuts of around 15 percent.

Meanwhile, a separate Journal, also citing people familiar with the story, identified Circuit City Stores Inc. as considering a plan to close at least 150 stores and to cut thousands of jobs, as an alternative to filing for bankruptcy. Other stories in the paper speculated on possible job cuts that could grow out of a General Motors-Chrysler merger, were that to occur.

Large layoffs at individual companies frequently spreads virally to other companies at industries that do business with the shrinking companies, exacerbating the economic decline.