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Europe keeps IMF post: Lagarde becomes first woman to lead the institution

Tuesday, June 28th 2011 - 23:15 UTC
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Christine Lagarde takes office next 5 July for the following five years Christine Lagarde takes office next 5 July for the following five years

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund selected on Tuesday Christine Lagarde to serve as IMF Managing Director and Madame Chairman of the Executive Board for a five-year term starting on July 5, 2011.

Ms. Lagarde, who succeeds Mr. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, is the first woman named to the top IMF post since the institution’s inception in 1944.

The selection of Ms. Lagarde by the 24-member Executive Board representing the IMF 187 member countries brings to conclusion the selection process initiated by the Executive Board on May 20, 2011.

According to the agreed procedures, the Board had agreed to meet with Mr. Agustín Carstens and Ms. Lagarde for the post. The candidates met bilaterally with Executive Directors, as well as the Executive Board, during June 20-23, 2011. In these meetings, Mr. Carstens and Ms. Lagarde had the opportunity to present all relevant information concerning their specific candidacies.

The Executive Board agreed that both were well qualified candidates and the objective was to select one by consensus. Based on the candidate profile that had been established, the Executive Board, after considering all relevant information on the candidacies, proceeded to select Ms. Lagarde by consensus.

“The Executive Board looks forward to Ms. Lagarde effectively leading the International Monetary Fund as its next Managing Director”, said the IMF release.

The Managing Director is the chief of the IMF operating staff and Chairman of the Executive Board. The chief executive is assisted by three Deputy Managing Directors in the operation of the Fund, which serves 187 member countries through about 2,700 staff from more than 140 countries.

Ms. Lagarde, 55, a national of France, has been the Minister of Finance of France since June 2007. Prior to that, she served as France’s Minister for Foreign Trade for two years. Ms. Lagarde also has had an extensive and noteworthy career as an anti-trust and labour lawyer, serving as a partner with the international law firm of Baker & McKenzie, where the partnership elected her as chairman in October 1999.

She held the top post at the firm until June 2005 when she was named to her initial ministerial post in France. Ms. Lagarde has degrees from Institute of Political Studies (IEP) and from the Law School of Paris X University, where she also lectured prior to joining Baker & McKenzie in 1981.

The appointment ends a five-week selection process to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned last month after being indicted on felony sexual assault charges.

Many IMF-watchers said Lagarde succession was a foregone conclusion given Europe's early backing of Lagarde--even before the IMF officially started searching--and the unwritten agreement between the US and Europe on appointment of top positions at the IMF and World Bank.

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Lagarde's “exceptional talent and broad experience will provide invaluable leadership for this indispensable institution at a critical time for the global economy.”

Washington's support of Lagarde on the back of endorsements from Europe, China, Brazil and Russia gave her the clear majority from the 24 countries sitting on the board.

Categories: Economy, Politics, International.

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