Procter & Gamble looks to trim staff with buyouts

NEW YORK (AP) — Procter & Gamble Co. is offering voluntary buyouts to a "modest number" of employees as it prepares to sell its Pringles unit.

The Cincinnati-based maker of Tide and Pampers brands told employees last week that it would offer voluntary buyouts to some workers. Spokesman Paul Fox declined to say how many employees would be eligible, but said that the "vast majority" would be employees who were already retirement-eligible. He also said that only "a fraction" of the retirement-eligible employees would be affected.

Employees will be able to discuss with their managers whether they are eligible for the buyouts in the coming weeks and months, Fox said.

Fox declined to disclose the company's target number for the employee buyouts, which were first reported on The Cincinnati Enquirer's website. He said the offers were not concentrated in a particular region or business unit.

The company expects to complete the buyouts by the end of its fiscal year in June 2012.

Procter & Gamble, the world's largest consumer-products company, had about 129,000 employees at the end of June, an increase of 2,000 over the previous year as it added jobs, mostly in manufacturing, in the U.S. and throughout the world.

The potential effect on the company's overall employment number isn't immediately clear. Fox said P&G will continue to hire even as it offers the buyouts.

"As a promote-from-within company, we must continue to recruit and infuse a steady pipeline of new entry-level talent that can grow into our future leaders," he said.

Fox added that P&G is constantly restructuring. The impending sale of the Pringles business to Diamond Foods Inc., expected to close by the end of the year, presents another opportunity for doing so, he said, as P&G looks to offset revenue it will lose from the sale.

The company is expected to give more details when it reports earnings for the fiscal first quarter Thursday.

Procter & Gamble's stock fell 86 cents to $64.51 Tuesday, a down day for the markets.

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