Ashland Inc. to cut 800 jobs globally

May 1, 2014 

Covington-based Ashland Inc. said Wednesday that about 800 employees are expected to leave the company this year as the specialty chemicals company works to be more competitive. That figure is at the low end of the 800 to 1,000 job cuts the company announced in January.

The job eliminations will come through a voluntary severance program or layoffs. Ashland did not disclose the location of the layoffs.

Company spokesman Gary Rhodes said the company's Valvoline unit, which is based in Lexington and employs 700, will be minimally affected.

The company employs 15,000 workers at 29 manufacturing sites in 17 countries and U.S. cities.

The job cuts are part of a $200 million cost savings plan, which includes moving some positions to lower-cost regional centers.

On Wednesday, Ashland Inc. reported a loss of $44 million for the second quarter, down from a profit of $53 million in the same quarter a year ago.

Sales dropped 0.3 percent to $1.55 billion for the quarter that ended March 31.

CEO James J. O'Brien, said: "I am pleased with the progress we are making in our global restructuring, particularly as we have identified cost savings opportunities at the top end of our targeted range of $150 million to $200 million. When complete, this restructuring should fundamentally improve Ashland's underlying cost structure, enhance our competitiveness and better position Ashland to achieve EBITDA margins consistent with the top quartile of our specialty chemicals peer group."

O'Brien announced in April that he will retire as chairman and CEO by the end of the year. The Fortune 500 company is conducting a search to choose O'Brien's successor.

Ashland Inc. traces its history to Ashland Refining Co., founded in Ashland in 1924 as an arm of the Swiss Oil Co. in Lexington. The company kept its headquarters in northeastern Kentucky until 1999, when it moved to Covington.

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