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The vice chairman of Citigroup, Stanley Fischer, yesterday agreed to serve as the next governor of the Bank of Israel.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered the position to Fischer, a last-minute surprise candidate, believing him to be the best candidate for the job.

The appointment still requires the approval of the cabinet. Fischer will take up the new position in the coming weeks.

To take up the position, Fischer will have to immigrate to Israel and give up his American citizenship.

Fischer, 61, beat out a number of other leading candidates, including current governor, David Klein, former treasury director general Avi Ben-Bassat and former United Mizrahi Bank CEO Victor Medina for the post.

Prime Minister Sharon and Finance Minister Netanyahu said, "Fischer is an economist with a global reputation and the State of Israel will be blessed with his talents, principally in the era of globalization in the economic markets. The fact that a person like him is willing to cut his ties to Citigroup, to immigrate to Israel and serve as governor of the Bank of Israel is a wonderful opportunity for the Israeli economy."