Employees say hundreds laid off at Novell's Provo office

Published: Tuesday, May 3 2011 12:08 a.m. MDT

John Mendenhall, right, a senior buyer for Novell, pushes his belongings out of the building in Provo on Monday.

Scott G. Winterton, Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

PROVO — Novell Inc. laid off hundreds of employees Monday from its Provo office, just days after the company was sold, according to employees.

In a statement, company officials did not discuss the number of layoffs but said they were excited about moving the company's headquarters back to Provo from Massachusetts.

The computing services firm and former software giant announced last week it was bought by the Houston-based Attachmate Group for $2.2 billion in cash, or $6.10 per share.

"(Provo) will become the center for the Novell business going forward," said Attachmate Group CEO Jeff Hawn. "Inevitably, with these kinds of complex acquisitions, there will be some workforce reductions. These changes will affect employees internationally, not just in Utah."

An employee said about 800 people lost their jobs company-wide, with most of those in Provo. He said the sales force, human resources, corporate operations and the legal department were particularly hard hit.

With the sale of Novell, "We all expected something. Nobody expected what we got," said the employee, who requested anonymity because he did not want to "burn any bridges."

He said the company plans to drop all but four of its product lines.

As a result of the merger, Novell stock stopped trading publicly Wednesday. The company also said it was selling patents to CPTN Holdings LLC, a consortium organized by Microsoft Corp., for $450 million.

Founded in 1979 in Provo, Novell moved its headquarters to Waltham, Mass., in 2004.

At its height in the 1990s, the company was running 70 percent of the world's computer networks with its system management software. It faded in recent years under pressure from Microsoft and Web-based competitors, and tried to reinvent itself as a distributor of the free Linux operating system.

E-mail: pkoepp@desnews.com Twitter: pbkdn

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