October 2, 2018 / 8:06 AM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Czech president may name PM adviser Michl to central bank board-LN

(Adds other potential names, background)

PRAGUE, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Czech President Milos Zeman may tap economist and investment strategist Ales Michl, who advises Prime Minister Andrej Babis, to fill one of two seats coming free on the central bank board this year, daily Lidove Noviny reported on Tuesday.

The newspaper, citing two sources, said Michl, 40, could replace Vice-Governor Mojmir Hampl, whose final term at the bank finishes at the end of November along with Vice-Governor Vladimir Tomsik.

The president’s spokesman declined to comment on the report, while Michl was not immediately available. He had declined earlier to comment for the newspaper.

The report mentioned other names which have been circulated in the past as possible candidates for the central bank board, including the current chief of the bank’s monetary section which prepares the quarterly economic outlook for the board, Tomas Holub.

Besides him, former board member Jan Frait, who now heads the financial stability department, and his deputy, Libor Holub, were also mentioned.

Michl worked for almost a decade until 2015 as an investment strategist at Raiffeisenbank, the Czech unit of Austrian bank Raiffeisen. He later went on to found an investment group that uses algorithms to invest into U.S. shares and bonds.

Tomsik and Hampl are the last board members appointed by the previous president, Vaclav Klaus, who had favoured more eurosceptic economists than Zeman.

The central bank advises the government on the country’s eventual adoption of the common euro currency that it committed to when joining the European Union in 2004. The state currently does not have any target date.

Governor Jiri Rusnok, who is an economic adviser to Zeman, has sat on the board since 2014 and led it since 2016.

The central bank quit an intervention regime keeping the crown weak in 2017 after using it for almost four years, part of efforts to revive inflation after the country went through two recessions following the global financial crisis a decade ago.

Since letting the crown float free again, the bank has been the most aggressive in the EU in normalising policy by raising its main interest rate in six steps to 1.50 percent, including hikes at its past three meetings.

The bank seeks to keep inflation close to a 2 percent target and is contending with a fast-growing economy in which unemployment is the lowest in the EU and wages are growing the fastest in 15 years along with a hot real estate market. (Reporting by Jason Hovet and Robert Muller, Editing by Andrew Heavens, William Maclean)

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