Barclays Closed Executive Floor in London After Chemical Spill

  • Floor occupied by CEO Jes Staley closed due to contamination
  • Levels 30 and 31 of Canary Wharf skyscraper shut as precaution

Barclays Plc temporarily closed the top floors in its London headquarters, including the offices of Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley, after discovering a chemical contamination late Thursday, according to a memo seen by Bloomberg News.

About 400 people were evacuated from the British lender’s Canary Wharf skyscraper after a mixture of cleaning products caused a chemical reaction and produced chlorine gas, the London Fire Brigade said in a statement on its website, without naming the bank. The accidental chemical spill isn’t being treated as suspicious, Metropolitan Police said in a separate statement.

The chemical contamination was found on the 32nd floor, according to the bank’s memo. Meeting rooms on the 30th floor and the executive suite one level up were closed on Friday morning as a precautionary measure but have since reopened, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Staley was out of the country at the time and the building is now back to normal operations, said the person, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Four people were treated for breathing difficulties, the fire brigade said. Fire crews declared the building safe after a “detailed sweep,” the department said.

The 32-floor One Churchill Place tower houses the bank’s head office operations, the London-based arm of Barclaycard, commercial banking and information and technology teams. The lender has used the building, which is down the street from its investment bank headquarters at 5 North Colonnade, since 2005.

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