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Amersham Biosciences Reorganizes, Cuts 400 Jobs

NEW YORK, Feb. 27 -- Amersham PLC, the parent company of Amersham Biosciences of Piscataway, NJ, and the UK-based diagnostic imaging business Amersham Health, announced Wednesday that it would undertake to bring the discovery systems portion of the Biosciences business -- the company's only unprofitable division -- into profitability by 2004. A reorganization of the division will result in the elimination of 400 manufacturing and R&D jobs, as well as a reshuffling of executive management.


Peter Ehrenheim, who directs Amersham Biosciences' protein separations business under president Andrew Carr, has been promoted to the new position of president of protein separations, reporting directly to Amersham PLC CEO William Castell. The move, according to Tracy Cheung, the company's vice president for corporate affairs, frees Carr up to focus on restructuring the discovery business and "reflects the fact that separations is separate from discovery systems."


The 400 job cuts, made yesterday from the company's European, Japanese, and US operations included a net loss of 260 jobs from US facilities in San Francisco, Sunnyvale, Calif., Lawrenceville, NJ, and Piscataway, NJ. Cheung said that there would be a net loss of about 10 jobs from the Piscataway facility. The reorganization, at a one-time cost of $72 million with a projected savings of $47 million to $55 million a year, will centralize research operations for discovery systems in Piscataway, and consilidate discovery systems manufacturing into fewer sites.


The company announced that the discovery division will refocus its R&D portfolio on higher-value, systems-based products that link instruments with reagents, such as the company's IN Cell analyzer, and on stand-alone consumables such as TempliPhi. Castell said in a statement that Amersham Biosciences' discovery systems sales efforts will target high-growth customer segments. Cheung explained that the focus would be on "high-value systems that really enable drug discovery and development ... and [enable customers to do] something quite different from what they've done before."


Amersham PLC has nearly 10,000 employees in more than 50 countries.



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