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Thursday, December 8, 2022

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China: Bankers And Traders Sleep In Offices Amid Shanghai COVID Lockdown

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As China’s major financial centers confront their worst Covid outbreaks to date, many fund managers are rolling out sleeping bags on trading floors across Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Traders are volunteering to take turns camping out in their offices to avoid restrictions sweeping through the cities at a time when Chinese capital markets are experiencing the biggest bout of volatility since mid-2020.

More than 20,000 bankers, traders and other workers are bedding down in office towers in Shanghai’s Lujiazui district as they bid to keep China’s giant financial hub ticking over through a COVID-19 lockdown, according to local administration officials.

An executive at a foreign bank in Shanghai, who declined to be identified, said his bank is on a hybrid working model, with some staff working and sleeping at a backup office in Puxi, in the western side of the city, while some others staying in a trading room in Pudong.

Brokerages, asset managers and financial exchanges in Lujiazui – China’s answer to Wall Street – rushed to summon key personnel to offices ahead of Monday’s lockdown in Shanghai, and prepared sleeping bags and basic supplies for overnight stays.

Some have also adopted two-team rotation shifts, and initiated disaster recovery centres in a financial hub that processed more than 2,500 trillion yuan ($292 trillion) of financial transactions last year.

The 20,000 people working at 285 office towers in Pudong’s Lujiazui Financial City, east of the Huangpu River, include white collar workers and some service staff, according to the administration bureau of the district, also home to some non-financial institutions.

Shanghai, home to 26 million people, started a lockdown on Monday by dividing the city roughly along the Huangpu River, to allow for staggered testing. Shanghai houses China’s biggest markets for stock, bond, foreign exchange and derivative trading.

Meanwhile Haitong Securities Co said Chairman Zhou Jie arranged emergency on-site duty shifts at its subsidiaries in Pudong on Sunday night, and led more than 150 key staff to work in offices starting Monday. The brokerage also kicked off two-team rotation shifts between its two office areas, it said on its official website.

HFT Investment Management, BNP Paribas’ Chinese fund venture, also put 52 workers in key positions in offices around the clock during the lockdown period.

Elsewhere Sinolink Securities issued a notice on Sunday night, urging its staff on duty to rush back to its headquarters in Pudong before midnight, so as to “ensure continuity of system operation and trading”, the Chinese brokerage said on its website.

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