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Factbox: Possible successors to Strauss-Kahn as IMF head

Business Materials 27 May 2011 11:26
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde and Mexican central bank governor Agustin Carstens have confirmed they are candidates to head the International Monetary Fund, the main institution overseeing global financial stability.
Factbox: Possible successors to Strauss-Kahn as IMF head

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde and Mexican central bank governor Agustin Carstens have confirmed they are candidates to head the International Monetary Fund, the main institution overseeing global financial stability, Reuters reported.

Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said on Thursday Moscow still backed Grigory Marchenko, head of the central bank of Kazakhstan, whose name was put forward for the IMF top post by the ex-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). It is unclear whether his name has formally been submitted.

The process for countries to name candidates closes on June 10 and a new head of the IMF will be elected on June 30. The IMF board has said it hoped member countries will agree through consensus on a candidate although it could go to a vote. The United States and Europe hold 48 percent of the votes in the IMF, and emerging markets -- China, India, Brazil and Russia -- have 12 percent of the votes.

The IMF job came open after Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested and charged for sexual assault and attempted rape of a maid in a Manhattan hotel.

The IMF post has traditionally gone to a European, but with developing countries playing a greater role in the world economy and demanding a bigger say, there is rising pressure to open the process to all IMF member states.

BRICs nations Brazil, Russia, India and China and South Africa have called the arrangement "obsolete" and argued that it undermined the legitimacy of the fund.

A Reuters poll of economists from all over the world, published on Thursday found 32 of 56 saw Lagarde as the favorite, although Israel's central bank chief, Stanley Fischer, won the most votes as "best suited" for the job.

IMF rules state that no one should be appointed to the post of managing director who is 65 or older and that no one should hold the post beyond the age of 70.

Without changes to those rules, that would knock out some of the names that have been circulating in recent weeks, including Fischer and Indian government adviser Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

Below is a list of remaining potential candidates to succeed Strauss-Kahn at the Washington-based global lender:

CHRISTINE LAGARDE (FRANCE)

Lagarde, 55, has announced she is a candidate to head the IMF. If elected, she would become the first woman to head the institution.

A medal-winning member of France's synchronized swimming team as a teenager and the first female chairman of U.S. law firm Baker MacKenzie, Lagarde won respect in the markets during the global financial crisis and helped promote France's negotiating clout in key forums like the Group of 20.

A flawless English speaker, Lagarde was voted best finance minister in Europe by the Financial Times in 2009.

Counting against her is her nationality. A Frenchman has run the IMF for 26 out of the last 33 years and the Strauss-Kahn embarrassment may make it difficult for Paris to argue that its run should continue. French President Nicolas Sarkozy may be reluctant to see the popular Lagarde leave in the midst of France's presidency of the G20 and a year before the country's legislative and presidential elections.

Lagarde also faces a possible inquiry into her role in awarding financial compensation to flamboyant French businessman Bernard Tapie.

AGUSTIN CARSTENS (MEXICO)

Carstens, 52, has served most of his professional career as an economic policymaker in his home country, becoming governor of the Bank of Mexico in January last year after serving as the bank's chief economist.

His debut raised questions about the central bank's independence after Carstens pledged to work closely with the government and invited the finance minister to sit in on monetary policy discussions.

He had a successful stint as deputy managing director at the IMF from 2003 to 2006, before returning to Mexico to coordinate the economic policy program of President Felipe Calderon, later becoming secretary of finance.

Carstens obtained a PhD in economics in 1985 from the University of Chicago, a haven for proponents of deregulation and laissez-faire economics.

Working against Carstens is the fact that he comes from the Americas. Robert Zoellick of the United States runs the World Bank, and other countries may not be keen to see officials from the same part of the world running the two global institutions.

He also lacks the backing of Brazil, Latin America's leading economy, which said on May 23 it needed more time to make a choice.

GRIGORY MARCHENKO (KAZAKHSTAN)

Russia and other ex-Soviet states backed Marchenko, 52, Kazakh central bank chief, to run for the IMF during a meeting of CIS leaders in Belarus on May 19.

"Frankly speaking, this is all so unexpected," he told a business forum in the Kazakh capital Astana, adding that it was "theoretically possible" he could lead the global lender.

Marchenko was appointed for a second term at the National Bank of Kazakhstan in 2009, the country's central bank.

He served at the bank as deputy governor from 1994 to 1996. After that he worked as head of the National Commission on Securities from 1996-1997, and was head of Deutsche Bank Securities Kazakhstan until 1999 when he returned to the central bank.

In 2004 he was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and in 2005 presidential aide on economic issues.

TREVOR MANUEL (SOUTH AFRICA)

Manuel, 55, is well-respected in global financial circles, having served as finance minister of South Africa from 1996 to 2009. He has long been touted as a possible candidate for the IMF and the World Bank, although IMF insiders believe he would be best suited to the poverty-fighting World Bank.

Born in Cape Town under apartheid, Manuel was a founding member of the United Democratic Front and was imprisoned repeatedly by the South African government for political activities in the late 1980s.

Initially skeptical, the investment community watched with approval as Manuel made a swift transition from blue-jeaned activist to dark-suited minister in the 1990s.

Manuel's position in the cabinet was seen as crucial for foreign investors hoping for a stable transition after the ousting of President Thabo Mbeki in 2008.

Under President Jacob Zuma, who took over as the country's leader in 2009, Manuel has continued to wield influence as head of South Africa's National Planning Commission.

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