FRANKFURT Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) Chief Executive Josef Ackermann is being touted in Berlin as a potential successor to Dominique Strauss-Kahn as head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), German daily Bild said on Tuesday.
A day after Germany signalled it wanted the fund's top job to stay in European hands, the mass-circulation tabloid said a second possible home-grown candidate was European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) president Thomas Mirow.
The newspaper cited no sources, and Deutsche Bank declined to comment while a spokesman for the EBRD played down any involvement from Mirow.
"The question is not currently being discussed," he said from Kazakhstan where the EBRD was meeting. "President Mirow is fully engaged in his work at the EBRD."
Strauss-Kahn, who has run the Washington-based IMF since 2007, was arrested on charges of attempted rape over the weekend.
If he leaves the fund, the debate on who succeeds him will pit U.S. and European policymakers -- who feel their respective regions have strong claims to the position -- against emerging powers China, India and Brazil, which are playing an ever greater role in both the IMF and the global economy.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday it would make sense for Europe to keep the top job in view of the fund's role in tackling the ongoing euro zone debt crisis.
That link might in turn prompt raised eyebrows if Ackermann -- not hitherto viewed as a leading candidate -- were appointed, given that Deutsche's net exposure to Greece amounted to 1.6 billion euros (1.4 billion pounds) as of the end of 2010.
Ackermann's contract as CEO of Deutsche Bank runs until 2013, and the bank has said it is still in the process of choosing a successor.
The IMF board met informally on Monday for an update on Frenchman Strauss-Kahn but made no decision on whether to remove him from his job steering the organisation's response to global economic challenges.
The IMF named the fund's deputy, John Lipsky, as acting managing director on Sunday, but he announced last week he was stepping down when his term expires in August, putting more pressure on the IMF to quickly resolve the leadership issue.