Comcast’s Sky Weighs Cutting Up to 20% of Italy Staff

Comcast Corp.’s Sky pay-TV division is considering reducing its workforce in Italy by as much as a fifth after the pandemic hit revenue and competition increased from streaming companies, according to people familiar with the matter.

Sky Italia Chief Executive Officer Maximo Ibarra, who took over at the Italian pay-TV company in October of last year, is preparing a restructuring that could include as many as 1,000 job cuts over the next four years, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. Sky Italia has some 5,000 employees, including about 4,000 full-time workers.

Ibarra has begun to discuss the strategic overhaul with workers and unions, but no final decisions have been taken and the details of the restructuring could still change, the people added. The 51-year-old CEO previously ran Royal KPN NV, the former Dutch phone monopoly.

“Sky Italia has defined a developing plan for the next four years together with a transformation process needed to guarantee a solid and profitable future for the company, in the light of an increasing competitive pressure and the difficulties caused by the pandemic,” the company said in a statement. “We are committed to handle this matter with unions and with a social sustainable approach.”

The pandemic has led to disruptions in professional sports, including Italian soccer, one of Sky Italia’s most-popular offerings. Traditional pay-TV players around the world are also coming under pressure from U.S. online streaming giants such as Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., which are winning over customers with more flexible and cheaper subscriptions.

“As a union we have already asked for an urgent meeting with Sky Italia’s top management to face this very delicate situation,” Riccardo Saccone, a senior official at the SLC-CGIL, said in a phone interview. Still, the company shouldn’t think it can make unilateral or nonvoluntary cuts under the guise of social sustainability, he added.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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