Duke to downsize, lay off 45 workers

April 9, 2008

Duke Realty Corp. is laying off 45 employees this week - about 3.3 percent of its work force - as the local company copes with a giant drop in development starts.

The layoffs include about 20 workers at the company's Indianapolis headquarters, leaving about 540 local employees. After the cuts, the company will have about 1,350 employees nationwide.

Last month, Duke reduced its projection of 2008 development starts from $1.3 billion to between $750 million and $1 billion.

"Although our development pipeline and construction volume are strong, our outlook for 2008 is not as robust as we had planned when we finalized this year's budget," CEO Denny Oklak said in a statement to IBJ. "As a result, we have adjusted our income and expense projections to reflect the realities of the current economy."

Shares in Duke have lost about 45 percent since peaking at $45.40 in April 2007. The stock traded at $23.86 this morning. Last week, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services lowered its outlook for Duke to "negative," saying the company's speculative projects stand to hurt its financial profile in a weak economic environment.

Duke isn't the only local developer shedding employees. Lauth laid off 80 employees, including 54 at its Indianapolis headquarters, in January, then dropped dozens more in March. Premier Properties USA Inc. laid off about half its headquarters staff - more than 40 employees - at the end of March.

For more, go to Property Lines.

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