Christine Lagarde in pole position as IMF starts its search for next chief

Christine Lagarde has 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, the UK and Spain all came out for Ms Lagarde, whose current term ends on July 5. Ms Lagarde said in Davos China was also backing her for a second term.

Individuals can be nominated by a fund governor or executive director through to February 10, the Washington DC-based institution said.

Aleksei Mozhin, dean of the fund’s executive board, said Wednesday, the board aims to reach a decision by consensus.

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 dampened 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.

She has repeatedly pleaded her innocence.

“She both should and I think will get a second term,” Adam Posen, president of the Washington DC-based economic think-tank, the Peterson Institute, said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“I’m also a big fan of the Lagarde IMF. The team she’s put together — they’re all truth-tellers and they’ve tried to turn the boat around,” he added.

Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne said in a Twitter posting 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 Ms Lagarde had shown herself to be “a prudent and successful crisis manager in difficult times.”

Ms Lagarde told Bloomberg Television she was “extremely pleased” to receive the support.

Speaking 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 said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

The IMF’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.

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

“Let me thank those countries that nominated me,” Ms Lagarde said in an interview in Davos. “I’m very honored, I’m very, very flattered,” she added.


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