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Salomon lures Japan's Mr Yen

THE ACADEMIC known as "Mr Yen" for his unerring ability to move the Japanese currency markets has been poached by America's biggest bank, writes Dan Gledhill.

Eisuke Sakakibara has joined the international advisory board of Salomon Smith Barney, the investment bank owned by Citigroup. He will work with some of the foremost names in the world of international business, finance and politics, including Sir Peter Bonfield, chief executive of British Telecommunications, and Dick Cheney, the former US secretary of defence.

Foreign exchange dealers around the globe grew accustomed to paying hawk- like attention every time Mr Sakakibara made remarks about the level of Japan's exchange rate. As vice-minister of finance, Mr Sakakibara was used as a mouthpiece by the Bank of Japan to tell the markets whether it wanted a stronger or weaker yen. Billions of pounds often hung on his every word. It is this knowledge and pedigree which Salomon, one of the most formidable players in the foreign exchange markets, will be hoping to tap.

Mr Sakakibara, who speaks fluent English, stood down from the Bank of Japan in July. Although he always denied that the Bank of Japan manipulated the yen's exchange rate, he admitted: "There are times when we need to send a message to the market to clarify our policy stance."

Mr Sakakibara, who is also a professor at Keio University, is Citigroup's second high-profile political appointment of the year. Robert Rubin, the former US treasury secretary and ex-Goldman Sachs partner, came aboard this summer.