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Hewlett-Packard said to consider cutting up to 25,000 jobs

Hewlett-Packard Co. is considering cutting as many as 25,000 jobs, or 8 percent of its workforce, to reduce costs and help the company contend with ebbing demand for computers and services, people briefed on the plans said Thursday.

The number to be cut includes 10,000 to 15,000 from Hewlett-Packard’s enterprise services group, which sells a range of information technology services and has been beset by declining profitability, said these people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t final and may change.

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Meg Whitman, chief executive since September, is seeking to reverse the slump that led to the ouster of her predecessor, Leo Apotheker. The company’s PC sales are dropping as consumers favor tablets, such as Apple’s iPad, and it has been slow to adapt to the shift toward cloud computing, away from the IT services Hewlett-Packard provides.

‘‘Hewlett-Packard could make the difficult decision of announcing’’ a workforce reduction, Brian Marshall, an analyst at ISI Group, wrote in a research note earlier this month. This ‘‘would enable ­investments in strategic, higher growth areas.’’

Eliminating 18,000 jobs could result in savings of about $1.2 billion and add 50 cents to annual per-share earnings, he estimated.

A spokesman for Palo Alto, Calif.-based Hewlett-Packard declined to comment.

Some of the cuts to Hewlett-Packard’s workforce of 324,600 may come through early-retirement packages, the people said. Hewlett-Packard may offer early retirement to several thousand employees, the people said.

Hewlett-Packard, the world’s largest maker of personal computers and printers, is working with management consulting firm McKinsey to draw up the job-cuts plan.

Whitman, former chief executive of eBay, said in March that she’ll combine the PC and printing divisions, ending deliberations to spin off the PC unit.

She has also said she’ll step up investment in research and development and take steps to shore up Hewlett-Packard’s balance sheet.

Besides tussling with Apple, Hewlett-Packard is also vying with companies including IBM, Oracle, and Cisco Systems in the market for hardware, software, and services for large corporations.

Hewlett-Packard in February forecast sales for the quarter through April that fell short of analysts’ predictions. Sales in the current year may decline 4 percent to $122.4 billion, according to average analyst predictions compiled by Bloomberg.

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