“Project Apollo” – the inside name for the next “Resource Action” at IBM – just might be delayed 24 hours ahead of when names of those to be targeted for layoff notices were supposed to be compiled.

The $2.3 billion deal announced Thursday in which Lenovo has agreed to acquire portions of IBM’s server business may throw a work life line to workers that Big Blue reportedly was targeting for a round of layoffs. If the Lenovo deal is approved, some 7,500 IBMers would transition to a new employer.

“It would be premature” to speculate on what will happen to the employees, IBM media spokesperson Jeff Cross told WRALTechWire.

In a joint press announcement issued early Thursday, both firms said the workers affected by the sale are likely to be offered jobs by Lenovo. And some of those workers are located in Raleigh. 

Neither company as yet will say how many Triangle employees might be affected.

“IBM doesn’t specify employees by location,” a Lenovo spokesperson told WRALTechWire.

The deal still faces regulatory review, and given the heightened concerns about computer security involving China, U.S. regulators might be more cautious when it comes to approving a deal regarding data storage devices. Lenovo has tangled with the U.S. government in the past, given its China-born roots and extensive operations in that country where it is the dominant PC manufacturer.

“The process will take some time,” Cross said in a phone interview. He noted that IBM is “confident of the outcome” but added that he would not “speculate about a possible time frame.”

Were Lenovo to absorb that many workers, the task would be far from easy given the scale. That large a number represents nearly a quarter of Lenovo’s global headcount, which is 33,000 spread across more than 60 countries. Of those, some 2,000 work at the company’s Executive Headquarters campus in Morrisville.

The server deal is also complex. (We have a point-by-point breakdown.

Some 1,800 IBMers joined Lenovo in 2005 when Lenovo acquired the largely Raleigh-based PC group.

IBM has been looking to sell off hardware operations for a long time, such as the PC deal and its point of sale unit based in Raleigh that went to Toshiba. Because of continuing drops in hardware revenue, the Systems and Technology Group (STG) was targeted for job cuts, as WRALTechWire reported Wednesday.

“Confirmed. Layoff list to be submitted by Friday. Firings in Feb, usual 30 days,” wrote one IBMer at the union website for Big Blue-related job posts.

“Please take me. The end is bliss.”

The “resource action,” which is IBM-speak for job cuts, will start any day, insiders tell Alliance@IBM, the union seeking to represent Big Blue workers.

The process already has a name: “Project Apollo.” A year ago it was “Project Phoenix.”

Executives at the Systems and Technology Group had been told they must turn in layoff candidates by Jan. 24.

Will a black Friday be averted for some at least?

[LENOVO ARCHIVE: Check out eight years of Lenovo stories as reported in WRALTechWire.]

[IBM ARCHIVE: Check out more than a decade of IBM stories as reported in WRALTechWire.]