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UPDATE 4-HSBC sends over 100 London staff home over coronavirus case

Thu, 5th Mar 2020 12:02

* HSBC worker in London tests positive for the coronavirus

* UniCredit sends some staff home in Munich and Piacenza
(Adds detail, writes through)

By Carolyn Cohn, Gianluca Semeraro and Lawrence White

LONDON/MILAN , March 5 (Reuters) - HSBC has sent more than
100 of its London staff home after a worker tested positive for
the coronavirus, the first known case at a major company in
Europe's main financial hub.

Italy's UniCredit also told some staff to go home after two
new infections were reported among its employees - one in
Germany and one in Italy.

The possibility of the coronavirus spreading across the
finance industry is worrying regulators, who fear the absence of
important staff could lead to liquidity problems in markets if
firms cannot operate their trading operations normally.

The European Central Bank has asked euro zone banks to
urgently test their large-scale remote working arrangements, or
other flexible working arrangements for critical staff, a letter
dated Tuesday that was seen by Reuters showed.

German and British financial regulators have also said they
are watching how prepared banks and other institutions are.

At HSBC, an employee in its research department in London
self-isolated on Sunday, sources familiar with the matter told
Reuters.

The employee was later confirmed to have the coronavirus and
on Thursday morning the bank sent home more than 100 people from
the research department, a bank spokeswoman said.

HSBC has told staff who came into contact with him to work
from home as areas affected undergo a thorough clean.

"We have been informed that one of our employees at 8 Canada
Square has been diagnosed with COVID-19. This colleague is under
medical supervision and has self-isolated," the spokeswoman
said. "All staff whose roles allow remote working have been told
they can work from home if preferred."

HSBC's London office is in Canary Wharf, a major financial
district that hosts many investment banks, including Citi,
JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and Barclays.

HSBC's headquarters remains open, the bank said.

NEW CASES AT UNICREDIT

Italy's UniCredit raised the number of its workers
infected with coronavirus to three on Thursday and sent home
staff who dealt with them.

Unicredit said it had told all employees who have been in
contact with a contractor in its Munich office who has tested
positive for the virus to self-quarantine for two weeks.

The bank has closed its Piacenza office, where another
employee who has tested positive, and a branch in the northern
Italian city, Unicredit said in a statement.

It advised all employees who may have been in close contact
with the colleague to self-isolate for 14 days and said it would
contact all customers who had been in the Piacenza branch in
recent days.

Italy has been hit harder by the coronavirus than any other
in Europe, with 107 deaths and more than 3,000 confirmed cases.

Banks globally are readying out-of-town offices and
isolating some teams to ensure they can keep trading if
coronavirus spreads in more major financial centres.

Goldman Sachs has been testing a back-up site in
Croydon, south London, and Citi has been preparing an
office in Lewisham, southeast London, sources familiar with the
matter said. JPMorgan is testing back-up locations in
Basingstoke, to the southwest of the capital, and another city
centre site.

In Spain, BBVA said on Thursday it had transferred
up to 100 staff from its Madrid trading floor to a location just
outside the city as part of its contingency plan to protect
operations from potential disruption related to the coronavirus
outbreak.
(Additional reporting by Julien Ponthus in London; Writing by
John O'Donnell, Editing by Rachel Armstrong and Timothy
Heritage)

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