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HSBC Splits Traders To Protect Against SARS

HSBC, which has the largest dealing room in Hong Kong, moved around 50 of its 300-plus treasury and capital markets staff to a makeshift parallel trading desk Monday to ensure the firm can keep an operation running if the SARS virus infects the main trading floor. "We've put them on a separate floor," said Pierre Goad, spokesman. "We're also looking at further contingency plans, such as using locations in other countries," he added.

Around 50 traders, marketers and back-office operations staff were sent home on March 27 as a safeguard and were initially assigned to an offsite location. However, the bank instead decided to shift its staff to empty space in its main building where it would be easier to set up a trading desk. Goad said each floor has separate air-conditioning systems and the two groups will remain separated for the time being.

As the SARS virus remains rampant in Hong Kong, most derivatives houses including JPMorgan and Credit Suisse First Boston, have taken precautionary measures (DW, 4/13).

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