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Tue 16 Dec 2008 12:11 PM

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BT chief says yet to see Middle East slowdown

But telecoms giant says region will not escape in company's bid to cut 10,000 jobs globally.

BT has yet to start seeing a slowdown in its business in the Middle East, with a doubling of its network connections in the last year, the regional president of the UK telecommunications operator said.

The firm has increased staff numbers at its regional hub in Dubai by 50 percent in the last six months despite the announcement by BT’s CEO in November that the firm was shedding 10,000 jobs across its global operations to reduce costs, Olivier Campenon, BT President EMEA region said on Tuesday in an interview.

Campenon said the reduction, which includes the Middle East, would involve BT cutting the number of contractors it used by 6,000 and not replacing 4,000 staff leavers.

He said the impact of the economic downturn had not yet impacted on its operations in the region.

“I have visited a number of customers here and the vast majority say that they don’t see any difference with the economic situation,” he said. 

“How long that will last is really the question I am asking.  I am in charge of a pretty large region from the Nordics down to South Africa and there are many places where there is an impact and I think the impact here is taking a bit longer to come, but I think it will be far less than elsewhere. 

“For me, the crisis is a fantastic opportunity as we have rarely been so busy as today customers are saying ‘find me ways to be more efficient and cut costs and transform my business quickly’.”

BT has doubled its number of circuits, connections customers have to the firm’s network, in the Middle East to around 2,000 in a year, with staff levels at BT’s Dubai office increasing by 50 percent to more than 80 people in May, Campenon said. 

It has invested about a $100 million in the region through its 21st Century Network, an Internet Protocol (IP) platform, which has been deployed in 174 countries, allowing a network connection between companies across the world.

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