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Sources say Novell to announce layoffs

The networking software maker plans to lay off as many as one-third of its roughly 7,400 employees as early as Wednesday, sources close to the company tell CNET News.com.

Networking software maker Novell plans to lay off as many as one-third of its roughly 7,400 employees as early as Wednesday, amid a sharp downturn in the company's business, sources close to the company told CNET News.com.

A Novell representative declined to comment on the impending layoffs, but several sources confirmed that staff reductions are imminent and could come as soon as Wednesday.

"I can't comment on rumors," the Novell representative said.

Novell completed a $266 million acquisition of technology consultancy Cambridge Technology Partners in July, adding more than 3,000 employees to its payroll. At the time of the acquisition, neither company was faring well amid a sharp decline in technology investment by businesses.

Novell is scheduled to report earnings for the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2001 after markets close Nov. 29. It reported a loss of 6 cents per share for the third quarter.

News of the impending layoffs comes as the era of former Novell CEO Eric Schmidt draws to a close.

Despite having taken the chairman and chief executive job at Internet search portal Google, Schmidt had thus far remained as Novell's chairman. On Tuesday, the company's board tapped Schmidt's successor as CEO, Jack Messman, for the role.

Schmidt, a former technology guru at Sun Microsystems, came to Novell in 1997 and led a brief renaissance at the struggling Provo, Utah-based software company.

Messman is the former CEO of Cambridge Technology and was a Novell board member before the acquisition.