Reuters jobs to go as data processing moves to India

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Reuters is to join the rush of leading Western companies moving key functions to India, where skilled labour is much cheaper.

The company is to set up a "Content" centre in India as a part of the cost-cutting drive under its "Fast-Forward" programme. Content, which supplies data to Reuters' customers but is distinct from the company's editorial output, employs 1,150 staff around the world. The division includes more than 300 staff at Tiverton in Devon and 65 in Edinburgh.

A spokeswoman for Reuters said some job losses at existing Content sites would result from the creation of the new facility in India but there was, as yet, no decision about how many. The company is now trying to decide whether to put the new centre in Hyderabad or Bangalore, Indian's hi-tech hubs.

"Certain existing functions may move to the new content facility in India," the spokeswoman said. "There is no date for the facility to open. We'll have further details in mid-September."

Reuters told its Content staff at the end of last month of the plans to move some of their work to India. Data feeds, of information such as equity prices, are a key Reuters product offering.

The company has so far cut 700 of the 3,000 jobs that will go under the Fast Forward plan, which aims to save £440m by 2005. The group's revenues have fallen sharply after its clients in the financial services industry have sacked thousands of employees, reducing the need for subscriptions to Reuters' terminals.

Dozens of companies have moved call centre operations to India but there has been a more recent trend to shift sophisticated and core functions to the country. India has an educated workforce and for jobs such as software programming or equity research, a graduate can be employed for a fraction of the wage rates in the West.

British unions have warned that hundreds of thousands of jobs here are at risk. Among British companies making the move, BT is to employ 2,200 people in India, Aviva, the insurance group, is moving 1,000, while Tesco is to set up an IT centre in Bangalore with 350 jobs. Goldman Sachs has just revealed plans to outsource 250 jobs to India over the next 18 months.