Abril-Martorell named deputy chief

Spanish media giant Prisa, now controlled by New York-based investment house Liberty Acquisition Holdings, will cut 2,500 staffers, 18% of its 14,000 workforce, to save €95 million ($130 million).

The layoffs will be implemented in stages, partly by voluntary exits and early retirements, until mid-2012. It will affect some 2,000 jobs in Spain and 500 more worldwide, the company announced Wednesday.

Prisa’s main cuts will hit its TV division, which includes Spain’s leading pay TV operator Digital Plus as well as daily newspapers El Pais and Cinco Dias.

Prisa described the job cuts as updating its “production and business model to guarantee the sustainability of the company.”

The cuts will be no slam dunk: Spain has one of the most rigid labor markets in the developed world. “Prisa will have to negotiate with Spanish trade unions and regional governments, neither of which will be easy,” said one analyst.

Prisa’s radical downsizing comes after it completed a share swap with Liberty Acquisition Holdings in late November.

Liberty took a controlling stake in Prisa and injected $868 million in cash into the conglom. Liberty co-founders Nicolas Berggruen and Martin E. Franklin joined Prisa’s new board of directors.

In further management changes, Prisa has tapped vet Spanish exec Fernando Abril-Martorell as deputy CEO and chief financial officer.

Effective April 1, the appointment positions him as a mid-term successor to CEO Juan Luis Cebrian. Abril-Martorell was giant telco Telefonica’s CFO from 1997 to 2000, then CEO through 2003. As Prisa CFO, he replaces Matilde Casado.

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