Citigroup Said to Hire Seven Bankers in Japan on M&A Outlook

Citigroup Inc. (C) is hiring seven bankers in Japan in anticipation that more companies will make cross-border acquisitions and restructure, two people with knowledge of the situation said.

The recruits include two senior and five junior staff, said the people, who asked not to be named as the information is private. Masao Yoshikawa will join Citigroup as managing director and head of Japan M&A on Nov. 1, according to an internal memo. Tokyo-based spokeswoman Mika Nemoto confirmed the contents of the memo while declining to comment on the hiring.

Softbank Corp. (9984)’s $20 billion bid for control of Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) underscores the potential for mergers advisory business in Japan as a stronger yen and a stagnating domestic economy make expansion abroad more attractive. Japanese companies announced overseas acquisitions valued at $96 billion this year, the most since at least 2000, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Japan’s mergers and acquisitions activity is “expected to remain robust, particularly in outbound crossborder M&A,” New York-based Citigroup said in the memo. Yoshikawa most recently worked as a partner and Japan representative of private equity firm Silver Lake, it said.

Some of the seven recruits have begun work already and others will start within three months, the people said.

The hiring comes after Citigroup cut jobs worldwide as part of former Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit’s efforts to reshape the bank. Pandit stepped down yesterday and was replaced by Michael Corbat, a 29-year veteran of the firm.

Younger Bankers

The world’s largest banks are slowing the rate of large- scale job reductions after eliminations surged 14 months ago, when Europe’s debt crisis escalated. Some U.S. firms operating in Japan are looking to hire younger staff to restrain personnel costs as business opportunities pick up, said recruitment consultant Katsunobu Komizo.

“There are growing needs for young people, especially among U.S. banks as business is shifting to them from European firms,” said Komizo, president at Executive Search Partners Co., Japan’s biggest recruitment firm focusing on banks. “Young bankers are also hungry to tackle global business at U.S. banks and break out of Japan’s stagnated markets.”

Komizo said he has received profiles from more than 160 bankers under the age of 32 in the past three months.

Japanese investment banks are also seeking opportunities from the boom in cross-border takeovers. SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. (8316), a unit of the country’s second-biggest bank by market value, said today that it is starting mergers and acquisitions advisory operations in Singapore.

To contact the reporter on this story: Takahiko Hyuga in Tokyo at thyuga@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chitra Somayaji at csomayaji@bloomberg.net

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