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Goldman’s Cohn Says Firm to Assess Locations of NY, NJ Buildings

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said it will assess the risk of having two buildings in close proximity after Hurricane Sandy caused flooding at offices in Manhattan and across the Hudson River in Jersey City, New Jersey.

“It’s one of the things we’ll talk about,” Gary Cohn, the company’s president and chief operating officer, said today in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Market Makers” program. “They’re very much in similar weather zones, so clearly something to be thought of.”

Goldman Sachs, the fifth-biggest U.S. bank by assets and the largest by equity-trading revenue, surrounded both buildings with sandbags before the storm deluged lower Manhattan and parts of New Jersey yesterday. The two office towers, both built within the past decade, are a ferry ride across the river from each other.

Some of Goldman Sachs’s Wall Street rivals, such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley, have headquarters in midtown Manhattan -- on higher ground that escaped flooding.

“We’ve gone through all the protective measures we could to isolate the buildings from each other,” including separate electrical and communications systems, Cohn said, adding that the firm likes the ease with which it can move employees between the locations.

Goldman Sachs has a total of 3.7 million square feet at its New York headquarters at 200 West St., which was completed in 2009, and the tower at 30 Hudson St. in Jersey City, according to an annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

London, Tokyo

The firm has more than 1,600 people in Salt Lake City who can handle some of the bank’s business if the New York and Jersey City locations are shut down, Cohn said. Goldman Sachs also can count on London, Hong Kong and Tokyo to assume some responsibilities, he said.

“We have a bunch of conference calls going on trying to get people to where they need to be,” Cohn said, adding that some employees are within walking distance of headquarters. “Sales and trading personnel are the people that will be our No. 1 priority to get into the building.”

Goldman Sachs also is weighing how to help the Battery Park neighborhood surrounding its headquarters, including allowing residents to use facilities at the Conrad Hotel adjacent to 200 West St. and owned by the bank, Cohn said.

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