PARIS (Reuters) – France’s top financial markets regulator Robert Ophele has applied to run the European Central Bank’s banking supervisory body, his office said on Tuesday.
The ECB advertised last month for a successor to Daniele Nouy, who is French, when her five-year term as head of the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) ends in December.
Ophele was appointed head of the French financial markets authority last August after a long career at France’s central bank. When he was deputy governor of the Bank of France he sat on the board of the ECB’s Single Supervisory Mechanism.
A source close to the French finance minister said the French government backed Ophele’s bid to head the SSM.
“He has all of the necessary qualities and experience to take on this strategic job,” the source said.
In terms of experience, Ophele can claim he helped see the French banking sector through the 2008-2009 financial crisis with far fewer problems than in other European countries.
The SSM chair is one of a number of top EU jobs due to become available over the next year, with the biggest prizes being the ECB and European Commission presidencies.
Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau is often cited in the media as a possibility for the top ECB post.
The SSM post requires technical expertise on regulations, making it a less political appointment than either the ECB or EU presidency. That may mean that a French person could get the job without jeopardising France’s chances of also filling one of the two top EU jobs, a source said.
Irish Central Bank Deputy Governor Sharon Donnery has also put her name forward for the SSM job.
Ophele’s candidacy was first reported by Les Echos French business newspaper.
(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Susan Fenton)