(Adds Cisco, IBM, Boeing comments)
By Nicola Leske
FRANKFURT, March 15 Foreign firms set up
evacuation plans in Tokyo and parts of northern Japan on
Tuesday in a bid to distance staff from a quake-crippled
nuclear plant while keeping their businesses running.
The planned exodus was already under way for several
companies and involved both expats and Japanese workers. Others
were still monitoring events. Some reported employees were
opting to stay put despite concerns about their safety.
German technology companies SAP (SAPG.DE) and Infineon
(IFXGn.DE) were among those moving staff to safety in the south
of the country, away from the effects of Friday's earthquake
and tsunami which damaged a nuclear plant north of Tokyo and
which officials estimate to have cost at least 10,000 lives.
Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O) has temporary closed its offices
in Shinjuku, Tokyo and Sendai, but said its employees are able
to work remotely, noting "limited impact" to its business.
International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N) said its
operations were not disrupted and had no reports of serious
injury to its employees in Japan.
Boeing Co (BA.N), which has more than 200 hundred employees
in Japan, said it temporarily deferred business travel to the
area but that it has no plans to evacuate its staff.
Officials in Tokyo said radiation in the capital was 10
times normal by evening on Tuesday but posed no threat to human
health in the sprawling city of 13 million.
Software group SAP said it was evacuating its offices in
Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya and had offered its 1,100 employees and
their family members transport to the south, where SAP has
rented a hotel for staff to work online.
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Chip maker Infineon said it was looking to move its staff
of around 100 from Tokyo to the south, but most seemed
reluctant to move. "We've offered to move staff to the south
but only a small amount ... have decided to go," said a
European banks UBS UBSN.VX, Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) BNP
(BNPP.PA) and Societe Generale (SOGN.PA) were holding off any
evacuation plan for now.
Swedish truckmaker Volvo (VOLVb.ST) was also holding back
even though its Tokyo plants employing 4,000 are closed and
some of its foreign staff have left the country of their own
Continental (CONG.DE), the German tyre and autoparts maker,
said it was preparing to evacuate around 100 non-Japanese
employees and their families by Wednesday, and that Japanese
employees would be brought from "insecure regions" to Hiroshima
where lodgings for as many as 400 had been organised.
Peugeot (PEUP.PA), the French partner of Japanese carmaker
Nissan Motor (7201.T), said around 230 employees in Japan had
been given the opportunity to leave with their families. Rival
Daimler (DAIGn.DE) said the evacuation of the families of 60
expat workers was being arranged.
(Additional reporting by European bureaus; Editing by David