BUZZ-Kier rises on layoffs, non-core units sale plan – Reuters

** Kier Group’s shares rise as much as 5.5% in early trading after the company announces job cuts, plans to sell non-core units among other steps

** Co to cut headcount by about 1,200, suspends dividend for fiscal years 2019 and 2020 as it concludes strategic review

** Says while it grew in recent years, strategic review found “there was insufficient focus on cash generation and that the group today has debt levels that are too high”

** Co also plans to sell non-core businesses, including Kier Living, Property, Facilities Management and Environmental Services

** Says strategic review concluded its “portfolio is too diverse and contains a number of businesses that are incompatible with the Group’s new strategy and working capital objectives”

** Costs of restructuring programme are seen to be about 28 mln pounds in fiscal years 2019 and 2020

** Expects annual cost savings of about 55 mln pounds ($69.21 mln) from the restructuring

** KIE stock has lost ~68% in value YTD up to Friday’s close ($1 = 0.7947 pounds) (Reporting by Shariq Khan in Bengaluru)

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