March 6, 2019 / 7:47 AM / 20 days ago

Top contenders for ECB presidency

FRANKFURT, March 6 (Reuters) - Following are short biographies of leading contenders to take over as European Central Bank President from Mario Draghi after his terms end on Oct 31.

For a Reuters poll on the race, click:

BENOIT COEURE

Coure has made a name for himself as the ECB’s main ambassador with financial investors and international institutions.

He is the only candidate never to have headed a central bank, having joined the ECB’s Executive Board after a career at the French Treasury.

Coeure is due to step down in January 2020 and his chances to succeed Mario Draghi may be hampered by ECB rules saying a board member’s term cannot be renewed.

ERKKI LIIKANEN

Finland’s former central bank chief is regarded as a seasoned consensus-maker who could bring together cash-rich countries in the euro zone’s north and struggling economies in the south.

During a 14-year tenure at the Suomen Pankki, Liikanen emerged as a policy moderate who largely avoided controversy and toed the ECB’s line.

Born in 1950, Liikanen became the youngest ever member of the Finnish parliament when he won a seat for the Social Democrats at the age of 21.

He was Finland’s finance minister from 1987-1990, before becoming his country’s first European commissioner in 1995.

He is now the oldest among those tipped to be in the race to succeed Draghi. If elected, Liikanen would be 77 by the time his presidential term runs out.

OLLI REHN

A former top European Union economic official, Rehn became known for advocating strict fiscal discipline and structural reforms for southern euro zone countries during the 2011-12 debt crisis.

He was appointed as Finland’s central bank governor in 2018 after a decade at the European commission and a short stint as his country’s economy minister.

Rehn played football professionally in his youth before becoming a member of the Finnish parliament for a centrist party in 1991 and gaining a doctorate in economics from Oxford University five years later.

FRANCOIS VILLEROY DE GALHAU

France’s central bank governor is seen a “centrist” who sits somewhere between German central bank orthodoxy and the market-oriented approach favoured by Draghi.

Since being appointed as the head of the Banque de France in 2015, Villeroy has become an increasingly vocal critic of the ECB’s negative deposit rate, a penalty charge on excess cash that is hurting in particular French and German banks.

Villeroy spent more than a decade at banking juggernaut BNP Paribas after serving as a French government adviser under Socialist ministers in the 1990s.

He is a German speaker and his family has roots across the border, where his ancestors founded ceramics maker Villeroy & Boch.

JENS WEIDMANN

The head of the Bundesbank is best known for his criticism of the ECB’s aggressive stimulus policy under Draghi.

Born in West Germany in 1968, Weidmann was one of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s top economic advisers when he was chosen to head the Bundesbank in 2011.

He was a lone dissenter on key ECB decisions during Draghi’s tenure, including bond-buying programmes that have later been credited with averting a break-up of the euro and the spectre of deflation.

Weidmann also opposed providing emergency funding to Greek banks during a liquidity crisis in 2015 and ruffled feathers in Italy by criticising the economic policy of successive Italian governments. (Reporting by Francesco Canepa in Frankfurt, Anna Kauranen in Helsinki and Leigh Thomas in Paris Editing by Peter Graff)

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