Morgan Stanley offices vapourized
By RICHARD BLACKWELL, The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, September 12, 2001
Crucial offices of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., one of the United States' biggest brokerages and the biggest tenant in the World Trade Center, were vapourized Tuesday by the terrorist attack on the twin towers.
Morgan Stanley's retail brokerage and asset management businesses occupied space on 50 floors in both towers. The company could not say Tuesday how many of its 3,500 employees in the two buildings escaped before the towers collapsed.
Dow Jones News Service reported, however, that Morgan Stanley's senior management escaped the inferno, as they were at the firm's headquarters at a different Manhattan location.
In a message on the firm's Web site, Morgan Stanley chairman Philip Purcell said Tuesday that “in spite of this tragedy, all of our businesses are functioning and will continue to function. We are committed to resume full operations as exchanges and markets reopen.”
Assets and client data, which were not kept in the towers, are safe, he added.
In Canada, news of the attack prompted executives to send home Morgan Stanley's 70 employees in this country, as the firm - like its counterparts in the Canadian brokerage industry - reeled from the attack.
Canada's investment industry has close ties to Manhattan's financial centre, and many firms have offices on Wall Street near the World Trade Center.
Some Canadian firms had employees in the complex.
TD Waterhouse Group Inc., the discount brokerage arm of Toronto-Dominion Bank, had 17 employees in the WTC, said spokesman Jeff Keay. All have been accounted for and are safe, he said.
Scotia Capital Inc. had eight people in the WTC, Bank of Nova Scotia spokesman Pam Agnew said Tuesday, although they were in adjacent buildings, not the main towers. They all got out safely, she said, as did 250 employees at a nearby office building. Key staff moved to a backup location, while most went home.
In Canada, all Bank of Nova Scotia staff were told that “any employees that feel uncomfortable, given the tragedy in the U.S., should feel free to go home.”
Royal Bank of Canada had about 400 people in downtown New York, most in offices near the WTC, president Gordon Nixon told his firm's staff in a memo Tuesday. “To the best of our knowledge, all of them left the area safely,” he wrote.
RBC Dominion Securities Inc. spokesman Paul Wilson said the firm put in place a “business resumption plan which involved gearing up a site outside of Manhattan that enables us to continue to do business in all essential areas.”
CIBC World Markets Inc. had about 2,000 people in New York, said spokeswoman Katherine Gay, but “we suffered no casualties because we're not in the World Trade Center - we're in the World Financial Center” across the street.
The building was evacuated successfully, she added.
Meanwhile, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce's Toronto offices effectively shut down and employees were sent home. Many brokerage employees had little to do once the Toronto Stock Exchange closed for trading in mid-morning and regulators closed the bond and mutual fund markets.
News of the attack was devastating to employees, Ms. Gay said. “Especially in World Markets, we have a lot of friends and family in New York. I've seen some really stressed-out people today.”
Merrill Lynch Canada Inc. spokesman Peter Kahnert said he believed the offices of the firm's parent in Manhattan had been successfully evacuated, although “it's hard to even phone through to New York.” He said he believed none of Merrill's staff was located in the World Trade Center.
Merrill's Canadian offices closed for the balance of the day, and staff were given the option to go home.
Bank of Montreal's New York offices are not near the WTC, spokesman Joe Barbera said, although its operations were in a “state of suspension” after the disaster. Canadian staff were told they could go home if they wanted to, he said.
The bank has a much larger operation in Chicago, where its subsidiary, Harris Bankcorp Inc., is located, and security has been heightened there, Mr. Barbera said. “Our people in Chicago are on high alert.”
With files from Andrew Willis