Peter Sutherland, former director general of the World Trade Organisation and Gatt, is joining Goldman Sachs, the investment bank, as head of its European operations based in London.
The 49-year-old Irishman will succeed Eugene Fife as general partner and chairman of Goldman Sachs International in November, when Mr Fife returns to the US after a seven-year stint in London.
Mr Sutherland will arrive following a traumatic year for Goldman which, like all its Wall Street rivals, suffered from the US bond market crash last spring. Goldman lost $150m (pounds 94m) in February 1994 alone, and laid off more than 1,000 employees worldwide.
The firm made $500m for the whole year, which it has already surpassed in the half year to May 1995.
However, Mr Sutherland denied that he had any specific brief to rebuild morale. "I think Goldman Sachs is doing extremely well this year, particularily in Europe. It was difficult for everyone last year," he said.
Mr Sutherland is seen as a good catch by Goldman because of his varied and high-profile international career - which has not, so far, included investment banking.
Starting as a barrister in Dublin, Mr Sutherland rose swiftly to become attorney general in Garrett Fitzgerald's government in 1981.
He then became Irish commissioner to the European Commission in 1987, and in 1989-93 he was chairman of Allied Irish Banks. Together with numerous other posts he became an adviser to Goldman Sachs, but gave all these up to head Gatt in 1993.
Gatt then became the World Trade Organisation, which Mr Sutherland left on 1 May 1995.
It is this global perspective that Goldman is most keen to use, according to Jon Corzine, the firm's chairman and senior partner.
"For a firm like Goldman Sachs, global reach is not a luxury but a necessity. Peter Sutherland, one of the most respected world leaders, will add an important dimension to our ability to meet this challenge. He is, quite simply, the right person at the right time for Goldman Sachs."
Speaking in New York, Mr Sutherland said he was keen to return to live in Dublin for family reasons, and he will also have a place in London. He said he was joining Goldman because "this job has global reach and potential. I will have overall responsibility for Europe and the Middle East, developing strategy." Asked why he had opted for investment banking, he said: "There is no more challenging or interesting role. It's the essence of the globalisation process."
Mr Sutherland said he was keen to use his experience in regulation and competition gained in Brussels, as well as his exposure to top-level multilateral deal-making at the WTO.
He is married with three children and was educated at the same private Jesuit school, Gonzaga College in Dublin, as the media psychiatrist Professor Anthony Clare.