KN Energy will be reducing its new combined work force by a total of 750 positions or 18% as the result of the integration of its operations with that of newly-acquired MidCon Corp., the company acknowledged Wednesday.

Letters went out March 16 to employees to be severed, a company spokesman said, offering various packages, including career training and brush-ups on job-seeking skills. About 150 new positions have been created and those have been posted on KN’s intranet. Those whose positions were eliminated are encouraged to apply for the posted jobs. Employees were given several weeks to make their decisions, spokesman Dan Danbom said, adding KN expected the 750 cut to be the net effect of the layoffs. Cuts “more in the office than the field” were made at MidCon’s headquarters in Lombard, IL, KN’s headquarters in Lakewood, CO, and in Houston, where both firms have large marketing operations.

KN announced the purchase of the Occidental Petroleum Corp. subsidiary for $3.49 billion in cash, plus the assumption of about $500 million in liabilities in December 1997. The transaction was completed at the end of January. Oxy had put MidCon on the block to raise the $3.65 billion it needed to purchase of the federal Elk Hills oil field near Bakersfield, CA.

The KN Energy/MidCon combo has come in for more than the usual amount of criticism, apparently from both inside and outside the two companies on the Internet Message Board set up by access provider Yahoo Inc., which provides anonymous message centers or chat rooms for a number of companies in its business section. The message boards are mainly for those interested in investments, but KN Energy’s chat room apparently has served as a catharsis for a number of people upset with the buyout. The board reached at– — had 452 messages, both sacred and profane, as of late Wednesday.

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