European leaders are racing to nominate a successor to Dominique Strauss-Kahn at the International Monetary Fund before a summit of the G8 leading economies due to be held in France next week.
They are keen to find a European replacement before emerging nations, which have long demanded a bigger say in running the IMF, can mount a bid for the job.
French finance minister Christine Lagarde is considered the front runner.
Turkey’s Kemal Dervis is seen as a leading candidate if the post goes to a non-European.
Also in the frame, but considered less likely, are Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Singapore’s former finance minister; Trevor Manuel, South Africa’s long time finance minister and the governor of the Bank of Mexico Agustin Carstens.
Frankfurt based analyst Robert Halver of Baader Bank explained the thinking behind the European effort: “It is important that we have a European guy as the chief of the IMF because they are aware of the problems in the euro zone and I guess a Chinese guy or maybe an American guy is not willing to solve the problems because they are facing their own problems and we need a European guy as the new IMF chief.”
Christine Lagarde’s deft handling of the G20 presidency has made her the favourite and she was all but endorsed by German leader Angela Merkel who said the French woman was someone she “rates highly” but against her is the fact that she is French and the IMF has had a French head for 26 out of the last 33 years.
Lagarde refused to comment on the speculation late on Friday.