updated 8/25/2004 2:01:02 PM ET 2004-08-25T18:01:02

Some Merrill Lynch & Co. brokers who work in a Manhattan skyscraper allegedly targeted by terrorists are asking for transfers to other locations.

Major Market Indices

More than 80 brokers in Merrill's branch in the Citicorp Center building, including several top producers, told supervisors in recent weeks that their customers are loathe to visit the office, said a person close to some brokers.

The 59-story Citicorp building and the New York Stock Exchange have been staked out for terrorist attacks for several years, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has warned.

"When you work in New York City, everybody is concerned," said Andy Williams, Merrill's regional managing director for the area that includes what the firm calls its Manhattan East office. "We're trying to deal with this."

He said no decisions have been made on whether to let brokers transfer to offices in lower-profile locations, although the firm is "at all times looking out for the best interest of our clients."

Williams also emphasized that Merrill has four years remaining on its lease in the midtown building and intends to "fully comply" with the lease.

A spokeswoman at Merrill, the world's biggest brokerage firm as measured by its 14,000 financial advisers, declined comment and the branch's manager did not return calls.

Since the U.S. government's Aug. 1 alert, armed police have stood sentry outside the Citicorp skyscraper, and people entering are subject to several levels of searches.

"The general sentiment is that we feel secure here, perhaps more so with all the guards, but it clearly is uncomfortable and inconvenient for clients and visitors to have to go through extra security checks," said Russ Gerson, global head of financial markets recruiting at A.T. Kearney, who works from the Citicorp Center's 27th floor.

Three other buildings with financial industry ties are targeted by terrorists, according to the government: the 24-story Prudential Plaza headquarters of Prudential Financial, located about 10 miles west of New York in Newark, N.J., and the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington, D.C.

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