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Merger will trim combined work force by 5.3 percent


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ The merger of Entergy Corp., parent company of Arkansas' largest electrical utility, and Florida utility owner FPL Group Inc. will result in loss of 1,271 jobs, or 5.3 percent of their combined work force of about 26,000.

The two companies announced July 31 they had agreed to combine in a $7 billion stock deal, creating one of the nation's largest power utilities, with 6.3 million customers.

The job plans were disclosed recently in filings with the state Public Service Commission.

Entergy Arkansas spokesman James Thompson said most of the merger-related layoffs will probably occur among administrative and corporate jobs at Entergy's headquarters in New Orleans and FPL's home office in Juno Beach, Fla. FPL is the parent company of Florida Power and Light Co.

Field jobs, such as distribution-line workers and power plant technicians, aren't expected to be affected.

Hugh McDonald, president of Entergy Arkansas, has said some positions in the state will be eliminated. But the company hasn't said how many.

FPL has 11,618 employees, while Entergy, with regulated utilities in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, has 14,343 employees, including contractors.

The merger must be approved by regulatory authorities in those four states, as well as by several federal agencies.

The information about planned job cuts was contained in filings with the PSC. The documents say the cuts are expected to save the combined company _ still unnamed _ about $1.12 billion over 10 years.

Most of the job cuts are to come within about two years after the merger is accomplished. That's not expected to happen until late 2001.

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