Citigroup Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are among Wall Street firms planning to shift operations to other cities and have staff work from home as Hurricane Sandy’s arrival in New York forces evacuations.
Employees at Citigroup, the third-biggest U.S. bank by assets, won’t be able to enter Lower Manhattan offices on Greenwich Street and Wall Street, which include the main trading floor, according to a memo sent to workers and confirmed by Shannon Bell, a spokeswoman. Goldman Sachs, whose corporate headquarters at 200 West St. is also located in an evacuation zone, told the staff in an internal memo that most of them will work from home.
“We expect that the financial markets will be operating tomorrow and the firm will be open for business,” Goldman Sachs Chief Administrative Officer Jeffrey Schroeder wrote in a memo to employees yesterday, the contents of which were confirmed by Michael DuVally, a spokesman. “However, given the potential severity of Hurricane Sandy, we have activated our business continuity plans.”
Banks turned to emergency plans after predictions that Hurricane Sandy could flood parts of the city, including its mass transit system, which began shutting down at 7 p.m. yesterday. The New York Stock Exchange will close its trading floor starting today and conduct business on NYSE Arca, its electronic market.
Goldman Sachs, the fifth-biggest U.S. bank by assets and the largest equity trader by revenue, said in its memo that some activities will be shifted to London and other locations around the world, and that some employees will work from offices in Greenwich, Connecticut, and Princeton, New Jersey. Staff deemed critical may be called upon to report to offices in Lower Manhattan and Jersey City, New Jersey, according to the memo.
Citigroup’s main U.S.-based trading office at 388-390 Greenwich Avenue is included in the city’s mandatory evacuation order, as are some branches and an office at 111 Wall St. according to the bank.
“All staff based in Citi facilities within mandatory evacuation zones must invoke their work-from-home strategies for Monday and Tuesday unless they are in business-critical roles that have established alternative work locations,” according to the staff memo.
European-based firms including Deutsche Bank AG, Credit Suisse Group AG and UBS AG, which have offices outside of the mandatory evacuation zone, are making arrangements to provide transportation and hotels for workers.
UBS booked hotels for staff in Manhattan, Stamford, Connecticut, and Weehawken, New Jersey, according to Karina Byrne, a spokeswoman at the Zurich-based bank.
JPMorgan Chase & Co., the biggest U.S. bank, is closing all buildings and branches in New York’s Zone A, the mandatory evacuation area, the four main heads of retail and mortgage operations said in an e-mail to the bank’s 160,000 retail employees. Office buildings outside Zone A in the city as well as New Jersey and Delaware will be open, though staff won’t be expected to commute if they have safety, transit or child-care issues, they said.
The bank is waiving late fees on credit cards, business and consumer loans including mortgages, and auto and student loans through Oct. 31 in seven states and Washington, according to an e-mailed statement.
Bank of America Corp., whose investment bank is based in New York, didn’t disclose specific plans for dealing with the storm. The Charlotte, North Carolina-based company, ranked second by assets among U.S. banks, is monitoring the storm and the safety of staff and customers will drive its decision, according to a statement from Mark Pipitone, a spokesman.
American Express Co., the credit-card lender with headquarters in Lower Manhattan, will shut all its offices in the tri-state region Monday, according to an e-mail yesterday from Sarah Meron, a spokeswoman. The firm hasn’t disclosed plans for tomorrow, she said.
American International Group Inc., the insurer that counts the U.S. Treasury Department as its largest shareholder, is closing its headquarters at 180 Maiden Lane in Lower Manhattan and other offices in the storm’s path. The company has staff capable of handling claims from their homes, if necessary, according to Jim Ankner, a spokesman.
Morgan Stanley told employees that the firm’s New York headquarters will be open today and to use their best judgment when deciding whether to head to the office or work from home, said a person briefed on the matter, who requested anonymity because the plans haven’t been publicly announced.
Greenhill & Co., the investment bank founded by Robert Greenhill, is “leaving it to each person’s discretion as to whether they can get in safely or whether they should just work from home,” Chief Executive Officer Scott Bok said via e-mail.
Vanguard Group Inc. may activate its “Swiss Army” contingency telephone force, a group of employees who are trained to handle client inquiries and transactions, said John Woerth, a spokesman for the Valley Forge, Pennsylvania-based firm. Vanguard has offices in Scottsdale, Arizona, that will assist if the Valley Forge office is affected by the storm, Woerth said.
Capital One Financial Corp., the sixth-biggest U.S. bank by deposits, will close its 350 branches in New York and New Jersey today, according to an e-mailed statement. Branches in northern Virginia, Washington and Maryland will open at 10 a.m., the McLean, Virginia-based bank said in a separate statement.
Bank of New York Mellon Corp.’s global recovery centers have been activated and teams outside of the region have been put on alert to take on any work needed to provide uninterrupted service to clients, said Ronald Gruendl, a spokesman for the New York-based firm. Two of BNY Mellon’s offices are in Zone A, the most flood-prone area, and will be closed to comply with a mandatory evacuation, Gruendl said.
The New York office of BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest asset manager, will be open today mainly for essential personnel, said Bobbie Collins, a spokeswoman. The firm has backup for trading from offices in other cities, including San Francisco and Singapore, Collins said.
Legg Mason Inc. told employees they could work from home, according to Mary Athridge, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore- based money manager. One of Legg Mason’s affiliates, New York- based ClearBridge Advisors, has enabled employees to trade at home, she said.
Blackstone Group LP, the biggest private-equity firm by assets, will close its Park Avenue headquarters today and directed employees to access the company’s system remotely, according to Peter Rose, a spokesman. Washington-based Carlyle Group LP, the second-largest private-equity firm, asked staff at its Manhattan office to “use good judgment in their travels and activities,” said Randall Whitestone, a spokesman.
“We are asset managers, rather than market makers or traders, so working remotely is less of a problem,” Rose said in an e-mail. “We do not think that it will have even a small effect on our business.”
KKR & Co., the private-equity firm run by Henry Kravis and George Roberts, asked employees to work from home, said Kristi Huller, a spokeswoman for the New York-based company.
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