Merrill Lynch posted the following statement on its Web site, www.ml.com Wednesday:
“Our most important priority continues to be the human toll from the tragic events of yesterday. We are extremely thankful that virtually all of our 9,000 colleagues in the World Financial Center and other offices in lower Manhattan were safely evacuated.
“However, we have some indications that a few of our people may have been in harm’s way. We are trying to account for everyone, and unfortunately, that may take a while. Any loss of life under these circumstances is particularly painful.
“All of us are shocked and saddened by the enormous loss of human life that has occurred — people working in the area, as well as the brave police and firefighters who gave their own lives in an attempt to save others.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this terrible tragedy. To facilitate special assistance for any employee who needs it, we have established a 24-hour human relations information hotline at 877/637-9040. We encourage our employees to use the hotline to obtain status reports about work schedules, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and other important information. ...
“… As of now, we are unable to estimate when we might be able to resume some limited, critical activities in these buildings, and we continue to implement our contingency plans at alternative locations. These plans will enable us to operate outside of the World Financial Center for an extended period, if required. Through the extraordinary efforts of many Merrill Lynch colleagues, we’ve been able to establish alternative trading sites, mainly in New Jersey. Affected employees will receive more information about alternative work sites as it becomes available.
“The New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and the American Stock Exchange will remain closed on Thursday, 13 September, but are expected to open no later than Monday. Our World Financial Center offices and other lower Manhattan facilities (below Canal Street) will remain closed, and we ask employees who work at those sites to stay home unless otherwise directed. Employees should contact their managers, check voice mail or refer to 1.800.MER.HELP for updated information. Employees can also obtain information from WorldNet and ml.com. “Financial advisers in the World Financial Center (SD) office should call 877/637-7020 for additional information.
“Our offices throughout the United States and the rest of the world are open for business, as they were on Wednesday. Market and business volumes were extremely light and all activities were conducted in an orderly fashion. We have maintained our position as a leading market maker in debt and equity securities outside the United States, and are prepared to resume our full range of services in the United States when the equity markets reopen.
“We encourage you to use this time to remind your clients that their assets at Merrill Lynch are safe and secure, and that our company continues to be financially sound with a strong and liquid balance sheet.
“Our research experts have been assessing the market environment in the wake of Tuesday’s attacks. One primary message is that investors should not make emotional decisions based on events but should take a more measured, long-term view. Observation, judgment and attention to fundamentals are what is called for. For the near term, these events could contribute to softness in the economy and markets. However, the Federal Reserve Board — already in an easing cycle — will continue to be accommodative and ready to provide liquidity, if needed, to the financial markets. Looking beyond the next few months, this event does not change our expectation for a meaningful economic recovery and stronger markets in 2002.”
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