April 24, 2019 / 6:12 AM / a month ago

Britain starts search for 'highest calibre' Bank of England governor

LONDON (Reuters) - Chancellor Philip Hammond began the search for a new governor of the Bank of England to help steer the world’s fifth-biggest economy, and its global financial centre, through the upheaval of Brexit.

Mark Carney, a Canadian, twice extended his term in charge of the British central bank as Brexit approached. But he has ruled out a further delay even though Britain’s departure from the European Union remains up in the air.

“We are looking, obviously, for a candidate of the highest calibre. As we leave the European Union it’s very important that the UK continues to play an important role in global fora,” Hammond told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday.

Carney, the first foreign governor in the BoE’s three-century history, took up his role on July 1, 2013, and will step down on Jan. 31 next year.

Potential candidates for the role which pays an annual salary of £480,000 pounds include former BoE deputy governor Andrew Bailey who is now chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, a markets regulator, and current top officials at the BoE including deputy governor Ben Broadbent and chief economist Andy Haldane.

Raghuram Rajan, a former governor of the Reserve Bank of India who also served as chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, declined to comment when he was asked this month whether he would consider a return to active policymaking.

Hammond said he hoped to make an appointment in October. He said his preference was to hire someone for an eight-year term but might be flexible for an exceptional candidate.

Earlier this month, he said he hoped potential applicants for the role would not be deterred by the risk of being drawn into divisive political debates over Brexit.

Hammond on Wednesday stressed the importance of putting the BoE under the charge of someone who would command respect of policymakers around the world at a time when Britain is preparing to pursue a more global role outside the EU.

“We know from the experience of the previous crisis that it is through cooperation between central banks that we ensure stability,” Hammond said.

FILE PHOTO: The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney leaves after a news conference at the Bank of England in London, Britain February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/Pool/File Photo

“Therefore it’s very important that as well as having someone who can do a first-class job at home, we have someone who commands respect in the international arena,” .

The recruitment process has been designed to ensure that the most qualified candidate is appointed from the broadest possible pool of applicants, the finance ministry said.

RECRUITERS ON THE HUNT

The Treasury hired recruitment firm Sapphire Partners, the first time it has sought external help to find a BoE governor.

The firm helped in the appointment of two women to the BoE’s Financial Policy Committee - former Virgin Money chief executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia and banking regulator Colette Bowe - after complaints by lawmakers about a lack of gender diversity.

Rupert Harrison, who was chief political advisor to former chancellor George Osborne when he appointed Carney, said Prime Minister Theresa May - a former BoE official herself - might want to install a first female governor.

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Minouche Shafik, director of the London School of Economics and a former BoE deputy governor, former Monetary Policy Committee member Kate Barker and communications industry regulator Sharon White were credible candidates, he said.

Bookmakers Ladbrokes placed Bailey as the front-runner with odds of 2/1, followed by Shafik and Rajan at 5/1. At 8/1 was the chairwoman of Santander UK, Shriti Vadera, who served as a business minister during the financial crisis.

A Treasury official said interviews would be conducted over the summer following an application deadline of June 5.

Additional reporting by Huw Jones and William James; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Toby Chopra

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