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Touch America to Lay Off 225 Employees

January 11, 2003

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) _ Touch America Holdings Inc. said Friday it will lay off 225 employees, or about 35 percent of its work force, over the next five months as part of a restructuring.

The layoffs follow the telecommunications company’s announcement two weeks ago that it was selling about 70,000 long-distance customer accounts to a Utah company in order to concentrate on its core data transmission services.

Touch America spokesman Cort Freemen said Friday that most of the positions being eliminated were tied to the accounts that were sold.

The Butte-based company, which currently has about 630 employees, said the reductions were necessary in order to ``staff at a level to support (our) business activities.″

``This adjustment will take place over the next five months, but we will continue to examine staffing levels as a normal business practice,″ said Mike Meldahl, Touch America’s president and CEO.

Friday’s announcement came after the close of trading on the New York Stock Exchange, where Touch America’s stock ended unchanged at 37 cents per share. Its stock has traded below $1 since the end of July.

In March 2000, when Touch America was still part of the Montana Power Co., the stock sold for as high as $65 per share.

Touch America, which provides fiber-optic network and broadband products and services, announced in November that it was running out of money and might need to seek bankruptcy protection.

The company also announced 75 layoffs and a pay cut for top executives late last year because of ailing finances. It is also the focus of several pending shareholder lawsuits.

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