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Somber employees left the offices of Novell Inc. in Provo on Monday after the company's new owner laid off workers less than a week after completing the purchase.
The Attachmate Group of Houston bought Novell for $2.2 billion and split the company in two. CEO Jeff Hawn confirmed that an unspecified number of workers was being laid off from Novell in Provo, which is one of Utah's largest technology operations. The company also declined to say what types of jobs were being lost.
"Inevitably with these kinds of complex acquisitions there will be some workforce reductions," Hawn said in an emailed statement. "These changes will affect employees internationally, not just in Utah. While regrettable, we are confident that as part of The Attachmate Group, Novell will continue to innovate and prosper, and we're excited about the future."
One of those affected, Dave Wright, a contract manager who worked for Novell for 18 years, said the layoffs came as no surprise to him. Any time a private company buys a publicly traded corporation, there will be cuts, he said.
"They have to make it profitable. There has to be some changes."
But Dan Muhlestein, a technical-support engineer with Novell for 21 years, said there was no indication layoffs were planned.
"We had no idea what was going to happen until the papers were signed," said Muhlestein, who plans to retire.
As he loaded two cardboard boxes into a Jeep Monday afternoon, a customer service representative for four years who identified himself only as Cory said his lost job came as an unexpected shock.
"I guess it always does," he said.
Novell was founded in 1979 in Provo as Novell Data Systems. Its headquarters was moved to Waltham, Mass., in 2004.
With the closing of the purchase last week, Novell became one of four units of The Attachmate Group, which is headquartered in Houston. The headquarters of the Novell unit now is Provo.
The Attachmate Group also split SUSE, a German company acquired by Novell in 2003, into a separate unit.
Hawn said in an interview last week there would be some movement of employees as Novell was restructured into two units, but he said "over the long term, this is going to be good for Provo and Provo employment."
Novell said last year it had 1,380 people at its Provo office. Attachmate has about 4,000 employees but declined to say how many were in Provo.
Novell started looking at strategic alternatives, including a sale after rejecting a $2 billion takeover offer in March 2010 from shareholder Elliot Associates LP. Attachmate Group owners include Francisco Partners and Thoma Bravo.
Provo Mayor John Curtis said that although acquisitions often lead to layoffs, "we hope for the best for all those who are negatively impacted by this change. We're anxious to learn more about the future of Novell and its employees."