Troubled American gay media company PlanetOut has announced a 15% cut in its employees.

Earlier this month the company closed its London office as part of a streamlining of business operations designed to reduce costs. The board announced last week that 273 staff will be made redundant.

A company that invests the wealth of Microsoft founder Bill Gates has purchased a major stake in PlanetOut.

Cascade Investments LLC joined with a number of other private equity vehicles including Special Situations Funds, SF Capital Partners, PAR Investment Partners LP and Allen Company LLC to fund a rescue buyout of PlanetOut stock.

The new investors including Mr Gates will collectively own a majority of the shares in PlanetOut, likely (dependent on the details of the private placing) to total 56.3 per cent of the company.

Earlier this month chief executive Karen Magee told Dow Jones that it would take at least 12 to 24 months to turn PlanetOut around and that the company may sell its adult businesses.

PlanetOut owns The Advocate, Gay.com, PlanetOut.com, Advocate.com, Out.com, OutTraveler.com and HIVPlusMag.com, as well as localised versions of the Gay.com site in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.

The company is based in San Francisco with additional offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis.

Both offices outside the US, London and Buenos Aires, have been closed.

In the USA, PlanetOut faces competition from MTV owner Viacom who run the Logo gay television network, itself owning 365Gay.com, AfterEllen.com and AfterElton.com. And Washington Blade owner, Window Media LLC.

PlanetOut floated in October 2004 at a share price of $9 (£4.48), it quickly rose to $14.26 (£7.10) in November.

The current share price is $1.93.