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RUMORS DASH AROUND NOVELL THAT LAYOFFS ARE ON THE WAY

SHARE RUMORS DASH AROUND NOVELL THAT LAYOFFS ARE ON THE WAY

Despite an increasing number of rumors and reports that some employees have received written communication about coming layoffs - as many as 1,500 - and accompanying pay cuts, Novell public relations spokesmen maintain that "nothing has been decided yet."

However, sources said a meeting has been scheduled for Novell's CEO Robert Frankenberg to meet with department heads and "give a statement of direction" on Sept. 9.Jeff Ascerson, public communications manager at WordPerfect, a Novell Applications Group, confirmed that the meeting is scheduled but said it is designed to give Frankenberg the opportunity to "roll out our corporate strategy" and "take charge as a new CEO does."

"It's very critical to communicate very clearly with the community and as soon as we have details we will share them," Ascerson said.

He said news of the meeting may be touching off some of the rumors about layoffs and reductions.

"There's always a lot of speculation when companies merge. You have people wondering how it's going to affect them," said Ascerson, who said he was unaware of any memo to supervisors about a layoff decision.

Several managers have been asked to resubmit their resumes, one source said. Others said restructuring has been going on at WordPerfect with management generally settling into positions one rung lower than their previous post.

"Of course, we know that we expect layoffs," said Kelli Tahata, corporate public relations manager for Novell. "But we don't know numbers or when or anything like that, even internally."

Tahata said if pay cuts are being considered, it's a surprise to her. "I would be extremely surprised" to see that happen, she said.

One source said pay cuts would actually be an effort from Novell to bring WordPerfect salaries more in line with the network company's salary schedule.

The same source verified getting a letter about pay cuts and cutbacks.

Another source said the cutbacks are expected to affect areas of duplication between the two companies such as human resources, communications and publications. According to one employee, outside companies are bidding for the opportunity to pur-chase the publications divisions.

Ascerson said company salaries within WordPerfect are fair and equitable and in line with industry standards. "Our human resource people go out and review those with other companies every year," said Ascerson. He said there could be some realignment but he knows of nothing specific at this point.

Novell announced the acquisition of WordPerfect early this year and settled the deal in July, making WordPerfect an applications group of the Provo network company.

Prior to the merger, Word-Perfect cut back its employee force by nearly 900 employees worldwide. Most of those who lost their jobs were in Utah County.

Company officials called the reduction in force a simple matter of economic response to a highly volatile market for software.