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The Blackberry offices in Waterloo, Ont.

MATTHEW SHERWOOD/The Globe and Mail

BlackBerry Ltd. is laying off about 300 head office employees this week as part of a broader cost-cutting plan that will reduce its work force by about 40 per cent.

The Waterloo, Ont.-based company began handing out the notices on Monday, although the cuts have been ongoing across its global operations for several weeks.

The company plans to eliminate 4,500 jobs over the coming months.

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"We are in a period of transition and we must focus on enhancing our financial results to be in a better position to compete in this current mobile environment," said a statement provided by company spokeswoman Rebecca Freiburger.

"We recognize our local employees' hard work on behalf of our company and the difficulty of this news."

Once the job cuts are complete, BlackBerry will have cut more than 7,000 employees since 2011, a steep decline from a total staff that once neared 20,000.

In September, BlackBerry received a conditional takeover offer from Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., BlackBerry's largest shareholder, worth $9 (U.S.) a share. The offer values the company at $4.7-billion.

Other interested buyers are also circling the company, according to reports from various media outlets. The tech names run the gamut from Google, Cisco and SAP, to Microsoft and Cisco.

Last week, BlackBerry said it expects to face costs of at least $400-million before the end of May, 2014. The expenses are tied to the severance payments for the layoffs, as well as reworking its smartphone lineup and other changes to its manufacturing, sales and marketing operations.

BlackBerry shares were down a penny to $8.19 (Canadian) in afternoon trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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