With steady growth coming from its Asia-Pacific markets, Hewlett-Packard's operations in the region are expected to avoid the worst of the company's new 18-month campaign to cut jobs worldwide. Layoff fears at Silicon Valley-based HP appear to have escalated, after months of speculation, when chief executive and president Mark Hurd on Tuesday unveiled a retrenchment goal of 14,500 full-time staff over the next six quarters. 'Headcount-reduction plans will vary by country, based on local legal requirements and consultation with works councils and employee representatives, as appropriate,' HP said. Analysts said HP's vow to 'carefully target staff reductions' could mean less anxiety for the firm's Asia-Pacific workforce of 36,000. 'It is obvious that every one of HP's offices will be affected in some way but Asia accounts for nowhere near the number of employees HP has in the United States or Europe,' Gartner research director Martin Gilliland said. 'It is likely that the region will be the one of the least affected geographical markets.' Up to 2,000 positions are expected to be eliminated in Germany, according to a report from trade paper Handelsblatt in Dusseldorf. Senior executives at HP's Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore declined to comment. HP has about 151,000 workers worldwide. 'Short-term morale and anxiety issues, common to any large-scale reduction in workforce or major reorganisation, should not be severe and should fade away as details of the cuts are released,' Mr Gilliland said. To streamline the company's organisation and stay competitive in the tough enterprise market segment, HP will dissolve its Customer Solutions Group - a standalone business unit responsible for sales of servers and other business computing systems to large enterprise accounts, small and medium-size firms and public-sector customers. HP will merge that group's sales function and related accountability into three business units - technology solutions, imaging and printing, and personal systems. While HP's enterprise sales may have suffered elsewhere, it remains Asia's undisputed top supplier in terms of revenue for server and storage systems. Figures from research firm International Data Corp show that HP was the leader in first-quarter market share based on customer revenue in Unix servers (29.8 per cent), Linux servers (25.7 per cent), Windows servers (29.3 per cent), Itanium processor-based servers (66.4 per cent) and small Intel-based desktop servers (28.4 per cent) in the Asia-Pacific excluding Japan. Mr Gilliland said: 'Emerging markets such as China, India, Brazil and Russia have been growing so well for HP that we expect them to be some of the least-hit areas [for layoffs].' HP staff in Asia escaped the brunt of job cuts after the company merged with Compaq Computer in 2002. Then chairman and chief executive Carly Fiorina announced a fast-track restructuring that shed 10,000 workers by the end of that year and 5,000 more in 2003. 'Great companies grow and reduce costs,' Mr Hurd said. Under his watch, the majority of positions to be cut will come in support functions, such as information technology, human resources and finance.