Outrage as banks grapple with toll

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Outrage as banks grapple with toll

By Cosima Marriner and Sue Lecky

Some of the world's largest investment banks bore the brunt of yesterday's terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre, which was located in the heart of New York's financial district.

Its largest tenant, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, was most exposed. Its US retail client division occupied the top 40 floors of Tower 2, employing 3,500 staff. It is believed that only half of these people had been accounted for last night.

In a statement on Morgan Stanley's Web site yesterday, chairman Mr Philip Purcell said: "We are all saddened and outraged by the attack on America today, and extend our deepest sympathies and prayers to all the people affected. Our key focus and concern are for the well-being and safety of Morgan Stanley employees."

He assured clients the company was still functioning despite the tragedy. "We are committed to resume full operations as exchanges and markets reopen."

The chief executive of Morgan Stanley's Australian operations, Mr Steve Harker, said it would not be known for another 24 to 48 hours whether any US resident Australians were working there.

He said all 110 Australians working in Morgan Stanley's Australian investment banking division in midtown Manhattan had been accounted for.

Citigroup, the parent company of Salomon Smith Barney, was also affected by the tragedy. A Citigroup spokesman in Melbourne said that part of the group's asset management operations were based in 7 World Trade Centre, the 50-storey building destroyed several hours after the first two towers collapsed.

"Our information is that all of our staff were successfully evacuated," he said. "There are continuity of business plans in place and they have been activated. Our US colleagues are implementing contingency plans to ensure business returns to normal as soon as possible."

Deutsche Bank's offices at Liberty Street across the road from the centre were significantly damaged. However, the company appears to have escaped any casualties, having successfully evacuated its 4,500 staff from the building after the first plane crashed into the centre.

Merrill Lynch said that the building housing its New York head office in the World Financial Centre - about 150 metres from the centre - sustained no structural damage. The firm's 9,000 employees were evacuated.

Credit Suisse Group said 800 employees were safely evacuated from an office building next the centre's towers.

Having activated contingency plans, all the investment banks said they were conducting business as usual outside New York where markets were open.

In Sydney's financial district, business went on as normal, although most offices were noticeably more subdued, with staffers more consumed by the drama unfolding in the US than by the data on their trading screens.

Others, however, were very much on the job. "We're transfixed by the coverage but at the same time trying to find some bargains for our clients," said one funds manager.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), September 12, 2001


Cantor Fitzgerald, one of the nation's biggest treasury bond houses (supposedly doing 25% of the entire industry's bond business) was the hardest hit. They occupied the 101st to 105th floors--way, way up top. Of their thousand, plus employees, they say only 84 are accounted for so far.

I wonder how heavy a hand this will play when the bond market re-opens tomorrow on the CBOT.

-- JackW (jpayne@webtv.net), September 13, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ