ST. LOUIS, Nov. 4 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Ameren Corporation (NYSE: AEE) today announced a voluntary retirement program that is being offered to approximately 1,000 of Ameren's 7,400 current employees. In addition, the company announced modifications to certain retiree medical benefit plans and a freeze on wage increases beginning in 2003 for all Ameren management employees. "We are focused on executing our core energy business strategy to produce and deliver reliable energy for our customers, maintain financial strength and flexibility for all of our stakeholders and provide solid, long-term returns for our shareholders," said Charles W. Mueller, chairman and chief executive officer of Ameren Corporation. "We have a tradition of being a low-cost leader in our industry and expect these actions to help us continue to address the challenges of the future facing us and our industry." The voluntary retirement program is being offered to eligible Ameren management employees and eligible employees who are members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1455. Eligible employees must be age 50 and over, regular, full-time employees and have at least 10 years of service with the company. Employees in the company's AmerenUE, AmerenCIPS, Ameren Services, AmerenEnergy Generating Company and certain other subsidiaries are eligible for the program. Affected employees have until Dec. 20 to make decisions on whether to accept the voluntary retirement program. Those who accept are expected to leave the company in early 2003. While Ameren expects to realize significant long-term savings as a result of this program, the company expects to incur a one-time, after-tax charge in the fourth quarter of 2002 related to the program. That charge could range between $30 million and $50 million, based on voluntary retirements ranging between 300 and 500, respectively. In addition to the voluntary retirement program, Ameren may consider implementing an involuntary severance program if it is determined that additional positions must be eliminated to achieve optimum organizational efficiency and effectiveness. Further, the company will continue to seek other ways to reduce staffing over the next year to reduce costs and gain efficiencies in operations. Modifications are also being made to certain retiree medical benefit plans; they will result in caps on the ultimate level of costs to the company and increased retiree co-payments. "As we stated recently in our third quarter earnings release, in 2003 and beyond, Ameren expects to face a number of challenges that have affected our entire industry," said Gary L. Rainwater, president and chief operating officer of Ameren Corporation. "As we move toward completion of our 2003 budget process, we will continue to seek opportunities and proactively take steps to help address these challenges." Rainwater stressed that these changes do not affect the commitments the company has made related to its Missouri electric rate case settlement or its proposed acquisition of CILCORP Inc. from The AES Corporation (NYSE: AES). CILCORP is the parent company of Peoria, IL-based Central Illinois Light Co. (CILCO). The definitive agreement for the purchase of CILCORP was announced April 29, 2002. Ameren expects to provide 2003 earnings guidance later this year. At that time, the company will also provide further detail on the expected net savings associated with the voluntary retirement program and modifications to the retiree benefit plans, as well as other initiatives to enhance revenues and reduce costs for 2003 and beyond. With assets of more than $10 billion, Ameren owns a diverse mix of electric generating plants strategically located in its Midwest market with a capacity of more than 13,000 megawatts. Ameren serves 1.5 million electric customers and 300,000 natural gas customers in a 44,500-square-mile area of Missouri and Illinois. Safe Harbor Statement Statements made in this release, which are not based on historical facts, are "forward-looking" and, accordingly, involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed. Although such "forward-looking" statements have been made in good faith and are based on reasonable assumptions, there is no assurance that the expected results will be achieved. These statements include (without limitation) statements as to future expectations, beliefs, plans, strategies, objectives, events, conditions, and financial performance. In connection with the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, the company is providing this cautionary statement to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated. The following factors, in addition to those discussed elsewhere in this release and in past and subsequent securities filings, could cause results to differ materially from management expectations as suggested by such "forward- looking" statements: -- the effects of the stipulation and agreement relating to the AmerenUE excess earnings complaint case and other regulatory actions, including changes in regulatory policy; -- changes in laws and other governmental actions, including monetary and fiscal policy; -- the impact on the company of current regulations related to the opportunity for customers to choose alternative energy suppliers in Illinois; -- the effects of increased competition in the future due to, among other things, deregulation of certain aspects of the company's business at both the state and federal levels; -- the effects of participation in a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission- approved regional transmission organization, including activities associated with the Midwest Independent System Operator; -- availability and future market prices for fuel and purchased power, electricity and natural gas, including the use of financial and derivative instruments and volatility of changes in market prices; -- average rates for electricity in the Midwest; -- business and economic conditions; -- the impact of the adoption of new accounting standards; -- interest rates and the availability of capital; -- actions of ratings agencies and the effects of such actions; -- weather conditions; -- generation plant construction, installation and performance; -- operation of nuclear power facilities and decommissioning costs; -- the effects of strategic initiatives, including acquisitions and divestitures; -- the impact of current environmental regulations on utilities and generating companies and the expectation that more stringent requirements will be introduced over time, which could potentially have a negative financial effect; -- future wages and employee benefits costs; -- disruptions of the capital markets or other events making the company's access to necessary capital more difficult or costly; -- competition from other generating facilities including new facilities that may be developed in the future; -- delays in receipt of regulatory approvals for the acquisition of CILCORP Inc., the parent of Central Illinois Light Company ("CILCO"), or unexpected adverse conditions or terms of those approvals; -- difficulties in integrating CILCO with the company's other businesses; -- changes in the coal markets, environmental laws or regulations, or other factors adversely impacting synergy assumptions in connection with the CILCORP Inc. acquisition; -- cost and availability of transmission capacity for the energy generated by the Company's generating facilities or required to satisfy energy sales made by the Company; and -- legal and administrative proceedings.
SOURCE Ameren Corporation