July 26, 2019 / 3:44 PM / a month ago

IMF launches 'open, merit-based' search for new leader

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund said on Friday its executive board adopted an “open, merit-based and transparent” process to select a new leader to replace Christine Lagarde, with the aim of choosing a candidate by Oct. 4.

FILE PHOTO: International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde arrivea for the Women's Forum Americas, at Claustro de Sor Juana University in Mexico City, Mexico, May 30, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso/File Photo

The IMF’s board in a statement made no mention of specific potential candidates, but said its next leader could come from any of its member countries and should have a “distinguished record” in senior-level economic policymaking.

The successful candidate also will have the management and diplomatic skills needed to run a large global organization, the board said.

Lagarde will replace European Central Bank Chairman Mario Draghi in November. On Thursday he ruled himself out as a candidate to lead the IMF.

In Brussels, a French official said European Union governments were working to choose a single candidate from a field that has grown to five with the addition of World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva, a Bulgarian national and former EU senior official.

The others under discussion are Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch former head of euro zone finance ministers; Nadia Calvino, the Spanish economy minister; Mario Centeno, the Portuguese chairman of euro zone finance ministers; Olli Rehn, the Finnish central bank governor, the official said.

Since its founding at the end of World War Two, the IMF has been led by a European, and analysts say the tradition is likely to continue this time around, given apparent U.S. support for a European candidate

The European selection debate is being coordinated by France, whose finance minister Bruno Le Maire had said he was aiming for a decision on a European candidate by the end of July.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, a Canadian with Irish and British passports, had appeared to be out of the running at a G7 finance meeting last week in France..

CONSENSUS DECISION

The board said that similar to other recent leadership selection rounds, it aims to reach a decision by consensus, and nominations may be made by any fund governors or executive director. The nomination period runs from July 29 to Sept. 6.

The IMF board said if more than three candidates were nominated, it would narrow the field to three shortlisted candidates based on their relative support on the board and will make their names public.

In describing qualifications for the next IMF leader, the board said: “(S)he will have a proven understanding of the Fund and the policy challenges facing the Fund’s diverse global membership. (S)he will have a firm commitment to, and an appreciation of, multilateral cooperation and will have a demonstrated capacity to be objective and impartial. (S)he will also be an effective communicator.”

Choosing a candidate by Oct. 4 would allow the fund to present its new leader at the IMF and World Bank 2019 annual meetings, scheduled for Oct. 14-20 in Washington.

Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Richard Chang and Susan Thomas

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