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Sempra Cuts Jobs After Post-Merger Period Ends

December 20, 1999
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Sempra Cuts Jobs After Post-Merger Period Ends

San Diego-based Sempra Energy, the creation of a merger between Pacific Enterprises and Enova in mid-1998, has announced a voluntary job cut plan seeking a net reduction of about 275 positions, or about 2.5% of its overall work force. The majority of the job eliminations will be rolled out in January and will target management and administrative support jobs at Sempra's corporate headquarters and in its two California utilities, Southern California Gas and San Diego Gas and Electric.

Leaders of the two utility companies emphasized that they are still hiring new skilled people to support Sempra's strategy for succeeding in the newly competitive sectors of the energy industry and related businesses. Offering the voluntary severance plan is going to allow Sempra to more quickly make the organizational changes it needs to improve its competitiveness, said CEO Dick Farman, who will retire next summer. His successor confirmed by the Sempra Board last week, Steve Baum, vice chairman, president and COO, said offering the voluntary packages to eligible employees will help Sempra position itself for the future competition.

"We're offering employees who would like to pursue other opportunities that chance --- while focusing on developing and recruiting the capabilities we need to advance our strategy," Baum told employees in a communications sent to all members of the 12,000-employee work force. Eligible employees will get a choice of having three years age and seniority added to their retirements or 3% of eligible pay times the number of years of service.

Sempra said about 1,200 employees will be offered a chance to volunteer for the program, and among those about one-third will apply and be accepted. The net number of jobs eliminated will be less than the 275 because of ongoing recruiting for certain skill areas --- particularly in the two utility companies, including engineers, linemen, and customer service personnel dealing with the distribution (wires and pipes) part of the business.

Sempra said it is offering the voluntary downsizing starting next year, having come to the end of its post-merger employment guarantee.

Richard Nemec, Los Angeles

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