BERLIN (AFP) - German engineering giant Siemens unveiled on Tuesday one of its biggest restructuring plans ever, saying 16,750 jobs would be cut worldwide, almost one-third of which would be at home. Siemens, which employs 400,000 people around the globe, said in a statement that most of the cuts, around 12,600, would be in administration and management services, while "restructuring projects" would eliminate another 4,150. Of the total number of jobs lost, 5,250 would come in Germany, the company said. "The speed at which business is changing worldwide has increased considerably, and we're orienting Siemens accordingly," the statement quoted Siemens chief executive Peter Loescher as saying. "Against the backdrop of a slowing economy, we have to become more efficient," he added. The group plans to sell its Segment Industrie Montage Services (SIMS) information management division "to ensure the continuation of the unit's service and assembly activities on a competitive basis," the statement said. That would affect 1,200 staff at 35 German locations, it added. Sites that employed the most number of employees would see the biggest cuts, including German facilities in Erlangen, Munich, Nuremberg and Berlin. "We want to begin negotiations with the employee representatives quickly in order to make the cuts in a way that will be as socially responsible as possible," personnel director Siegfried Russwurm said. "Only as a last resort will we terminate employment contracts for operational reasons," Russwurm stressed. Loescher said the sprawling conglomerate, which makes products from light bulbs to power stations and trains, had to catch up with its rivals, such as the US group General Electric. He had already set a target of reducing administration and management costs by 1.2 billion euros (1.9 billion dollars) by 2010. Loescher, an Austrian, used to work at General Electric and is the first Siemens boss named from outside the company. He took over last year to pull Siemens out of a corruption scandal centered on the acknowledged practice of paying kickbacks to obtain foreign contracts. But his approach has rankled some, in particular trade unions that did not appreciate comments Loescher made in a press interview, when he said Siemens was "too German." Some union representatives have said they might stage strikes to protest the layoff plan announced on Tuesday, arguing that the company's substantial profits mainly benefit its shareholders.