IMF chief wins support for another term

Ms Lagarde, whose term as IMF head ends on July 5, has said she would be open to serving another term.
Ms Lagarde, whose term as IMF head ends on July 5, has said she would be open to serving another term.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Germany, France and Britain back Lagarde's reappointment

PARIS • Ms Christine Lagarde picked up nominations from across Europe for a second term as leader of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as part of a selection process that member nations intend to complete by early March.

Germany, France and Britain all came out for Ms Lagarde, whose current term ends on July 5.

Mr Aleksei Mozhin, dean of the fund's executive board, said in an e-mail statement on Wednesday that the board aims to reach a decision by consensus.

Individuals can be nominated by a fund governor or executive director till Feb 10, the Washington-based institution said. So far, no challengers have emerged for the top IMF job.

Ms Lagarde, 59, has been seen as all but a lock to be reappointed, though concerns about legal charges related to actions taken when she was French finance minister damped those expectations slightly last month.

Ms Lagarde, who has overseen the IMF through the challenging euro-zone bailouts and is widely respected in the global financial community, has not said directly that she wants to renew her position. But at the fund's annual meeting in Lima in October, she said she would be open to serving another term.

While she is still the front runner and analysts said the case is unlikely to derail her reappointment, the prospect of a politically charged trial in her home country may still complicate her future at the IMF.

Ms Lagarde has repeatedly pleaded her innocence in the case.

During her tenure since 2011, a sovereign debt crisis in Europe eased, loan programmes to debt- laden Greece were extended and the Chinese yuan was added to the IMF's benchmark currency basket.

The fund also last year won approval by the United States Congress for a landmark reform programme that shifted more voting power to China and other key emerging markets.

British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said in a Twitter post that he was "delighted" to nominate Ms Lagarde for a new term, describing her as "an outstanding leader with vision and acumen" to steer the global economy in the coming years.

Germany's Finance Ministry said in a statement that Ms Lagarde was "a prudent and successful crisis manager in difficult times" after the financial crisis. France also gave its backing.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Finnish Finance Minister Alexander Stubb said Ms Lagarde "definitely" has his country's support for a second term. "Lagarde is an amazing professional and a true champion of financial issues," he told Bloomberg Television.

The fund's 188 member countries will be keen to avoid adding to the negative publicity generated by the legal troubles of former IMF heads Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Rodrigo Rato, said Mr Andrea Montanino, who served as an executive director at the fund until last year.

The executive board has adopted an open, merit-based and transparent process for the selection of the managing director, similar to the one used in the previous round, Mr Mozhin said.

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2016, with the headline 'IMF chief wins support for another term'. Print Edition | Subscribe