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PRAXAIR TO MOVE WORK, 26 JOBS TO TONAWANDA FROM TARRYTOWN

Responding to a weaker economy, Praxair Inc. announced Friday it will cut 900 jobs -- about 4 percent of its global work force -- but it doesn't know how many of the cuts will fall at its sites in Niagara Falls and the Town of Tonawanda, representatives said.

The 1,200-job Tonawanda site, a research and development facility, will actually gain 26 workers in a consolidation move that is closing another research facility in Tarrytown, spokeswoman Susan Szita Gore said.

The Tarrytown workers, who design equipment for gas use such as in welding, will complete transfers to Tonawanda by Dec. 31, she said. The Tonawanda site on Sheridan Drive designs equipment that produces oxygen, hydrogen, carbon-dioxide and other industrial gases. However, cuts in corporate-wide units like procurement, plant engineering and plant construction may result in job reductions here, Szita Gore said.

"Parts of those business units are located in Tonawanda," she said. But "decisions (on staff levels) haven't been made yet."

The number of local job cuts will be determined in four to six weeks, she said. The company expects 400 of the total cuts will come in the United States.

Christian Lenci, manager of Praxair's Niagara Falls plant, said he doesn't expect the retrenchment to subtract any of the 90 jobs there. The plant produces oxygen, nitrogen, argon and hydrogen. However, the impact of the cutback on the plant isn't known, he said.

Praxair termed trimming its work force a necessary response to weaker economic conditions and an expected slowdown in aviation. The cutback will cost $65 million to $70 million in severance expenses.

Stock in the Danbury, Conn.-based company rose 73 cents Friday to $42 a share on the New York Stock Exchange.

Praxair will report third-quarter results Oct. 24. It expects earnings per-share to be 72 cents, not including one-time expenses of the job cuts, in line with analysts' expectations.

Praxair's Surface Technologies unit supplies coatings and repair services for aircraft engines and parts. Aerospace market sales represent 4 percent of its total sales of $5 billion a year. The company expects a downturn in commercial aircraft business, partly offset by an increase in military orders.

e-mail: fwilliams@buffnews.com

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