Cisco reportedly laid off up to 700 employees on Thursday from its San Jose headquarters.

According to several reports, including the Wall Street Journal and MarketWatch, the workforce reduction is part of the 1,500 to 2,000 positions earmarked for elimination early this year. Cisco is looking to cut between $1 billion and $1.5 billion (£612 million - £919 million) in expenses during the economic downturn, which is hammering sales.

In the third quarter of Cisco's 2009 fiscal year, revenue fell 17 percent. Cisco is expected to record another double digit decline in sales for its fiscal fourth quarter, which ends later this month.

Cisco acknowledged that it let some employees go this week but did not confirm the numbers in the various reports. Speculation has been swirling that the axe would fall at Cisco.

"This limited restructuring is part of our ongoing, targeted realignment of resources and was previously discussed on our fiscal second and third quarter 2009 earnings calls," a company spokesperson stated in an email to Network World.

"While Cisco constantly manages its business priorities, resources and overall employee alignment as part of our overall business management process, we are sensitive to the impact these decisions have on employees during this challenging economic environment. We are doing everything possible to minimize the impact on employees affected by the limited restructuring."

Cisco has been quietly engaging in limited restructurings throughout the year, some related to the 1,500 to 2,000 positions publicy disclosed, and others not.