Lagarde wins European nominations for second term as IMF chief

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

Germany, France and the U.K. all came out for Ms Lagarde, whose current term ends on July 5. Aleksei Mozhin, dean of the fund's executive board, said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday that the board aims to reach a decision by consensus. Individuals can be nominated by a fund governor or executive director through Feb. 10, the Washington-based institution said.

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 in December. At the fund's annual meeting in Lima in October, Ms Lagarde said she'd be open to serving another term.

While she's 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.

U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said in a Twitter posting that he was "delighted" to nominate Ms Lagarde for a new term, describing her as "an outstanding leader with vision & 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 provided its backing.

Speaking from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Finnish Finance Minister Alexander Stubb said that 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 said in an interview with 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 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, Mozhin said.