Belgian chemicals giant Solvay, facing difficulties linked to the coronavirus and the Boeing 737 MAX scandal, on Wednesday announced plans to cut 350 jobs around the world by the end of 2021.

The company said in a statement it would axe 500 posts including some in senior management, but create 150 in the advanced materials sector, which supplies compounds to the aviation industry.

Turning to its 2019 results, Solvay announced a 1.0-percent percent decline in bottom-line net profit to 1.075 billion euros ($1.2 billion) last year, while revenues stagnated at 10.244 billion euros.

And the group warned of challenges in the months to come.

Solvay said its bottom-line net profit fell in 2019
Solvay said its bottom-line net profit fell in 2019 AFP / SEBASTIEN BOZON

Results for the first three months of 2020 were "expected to be down by high single digit as a combined result of the 737MAX production halt, the impact of the COVID-19 virus, and the increasingly challenging oil and gas market," Solvay said.

The chemicals giant has ramped up its target for reducing costs by 2024, aiming to cut more than 350 million euros a year.

Previously, it had set itself a goal of 300-350 million euros.

Of the job losses, CEO Ilham Kadri said "it is never easy but it is necessary for the company's competitiveness".

She said it was too early to assess the full impact of coronavirus on the company's business, but that precautions had been taken to protect employees in affected areas including China, which accounts for 10 percent of sales.