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Merrill Lynch & Co.’s top executive in Japan, Izumi Kobayashi, is in advanced talks with the World Bank to head its Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, sources said.

The hiring process for the Washington-based post is in the final stages and Kobayashi is the leading candidate, said a source briefed on the matter who declined to be identified because the selection hasn’t been voted on by the World Bank board. Kobayashi, 49, joined Merrill in Tokyo in 1985 and became president of Merrill Lynch Japan Securities in 2001.

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