Goldman did not seek Tokyo exchange halt post-quake

By Tim Kelly and David Dolan

TOKYO (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs (GS.N: Quote, Profile, Research) said it did not urge the Tokyo Stock Exchange to halt trading in the wake of Japan’s earthquake and subsequent nuclear crisis.

“Goldman Sachs supports the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s decision to stay open,” Miyako Takebe, a spokeswoman for Goldman in Tokyo, told Reuters.

The crisis had prompted some foreign banks to ask the Tokyo Stock Exchange to stop trading after the earthquake, a move bourse chief Atsushi Saito called “selfish” in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Saito’s comment was later confirmed by sources at the exchange.

The 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck Japan’s northeast coast on March 11 and tore through a nuclear power plant in Fukushima, 240 km north of Tokyo.

The plant has leaked radiation and is still seen at risk of meltdown, despite efforts by the authorities to contain the situation.

Many foreign bankers and traders left Japan soon after the earthquake and have been dubbed “fly-jin,” a play on the Japanese word for foreigner “gaijin,” by Japanese media.

More than two weeks after the earthquake, many of Tokyo’s foreign financial firms remain thinly staffed. The bars and restaurants that usually bustle with foreign bankers and traders are eerily quiet.

As a result, some foreign financial firms have become worried about getting a “black mark” for not being able to process trades for clients, when domestic brokerages were largely fully staffed, a person in financial services in Tokyo told Reuters on condition they were not identified.

Some top executives of U.S. firms visited Tokyo this week to meet with local staff.

(Editing by Jane Merriman)

Goldman did not seek Tokyo exchange halt post-quake