StanChart, HSBC close all Bahrain branches

LONDON, March 16 Wed Mar 16, 2011 6:34am EDT

LONDON, March 16 (Reuters) - Standard Chartered (STAN.L) and HSBC Holdings (HSBA.L) said they have closed all their branches in Bahrain on Wednesday, after Bahraini forces clashed with protestors.

Bahrain on Tuesday declared martial law to quell worsening sectarian unrest that has sucked in troops from fellow Sunni-ruled neighbour Saudi Arabia. [ID:nLDE72F02J]

StanChart has seven branches in Bahrain and HSBC has four branches, making them two of the leading foreign banks in the country. They had each kept two branches open on Tuesday.

Both banks said their priority was the safety of staff. StanChart has 500 employees and HSBC has 334. All were safe. The banks said other banking operations, such as ATMs, were operating as usual.

(Reporting by Steve Slater)

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