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Disney cuts not expected to hurt local projects

March 29, 2001

Claudia Peschiutta

GLENDALE -- Most of the 4,000 job cuts The Walt Disney Co. plans to

make this year are targeted at areas outside of Glendale and the layoffs

are not expected to affect local projects, officials said Wednesday.

Word of the biggest layoff in Disney's history probably raised concern

among many in Glendale, where the company employs hundreds of people at

its Walt Disney Imagineering campus and at KABC-TV (Channel 7).

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But the cuts should have little effect on the station or the company's

plans to expand its campus on San Fernando Road to nearly 6 million

square feet, said Ken Green, a Disney spokesman.

"We're talking about 3%, three out of 100 people," he said.

More than 3,000 of the cuts will likely be made in the company's

theme-park division, Disney officials said.

Specific information about the layoffs is not available because

directors of the company's business units will have to decide where the

cuts will be made, Green said.

Disney employees on Tuesday received e-mails informing them that 4,000

full-time jobs would be eliminated by July due to "the increasingly

pressing challenges of the softening economic environment."

In the message, Disney executives said they would try to bring about

the reduction through a "voluntary separation program," in which those

who offer to leave will receive severance incentives, extended benefits

and outplacement services.

Arnold Kleiner, president and general manager of KABC, said he hoped

to avoid mandatory layoffs.

"Our hope is that the voluntary part of this will take care of it

all," he said.

When asked whether the station could afford to lose any employees,

Arnold said, "We can always do things differently."

Some station employees have asked questions about the layoffs but no

one seems to be panicking, he said.

The company has about 120,000 employees worldwide. Providing benefits

to laid-off workers is expected to cost Disney $250,000 but the cuts will

save the company about $400 million a year.

Following news of the layoff, Disney shares fell 84 cents to $28.36.

Disney employees eligible for the voluntary separation program will be

notified in less than 10 days and will be given three weeks to decide

whether they want to leave the company.

"I don't think people will really come to terms with it until they get

the letter," Kleiner said. "I don't think it's real until then."

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