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Last Updated: Monday, 19 April, 2004, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
Rato favourite to take over IMF
Rodrigo Rato
Previously Europe had failed to find a single candidate for the IMF top job
Rodrigo Rato, Spain's former finance minister, is favourite to become the International Monetary Fund's new head.

Mr Rato's main challenger was Jean Lemierre, the current president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Mr Lemierre, however, was re-appointed to his position on Monday.

European Union finance ministers had agreed to choose between the two after Horst Koehler resigned from the job to stand for the German presidency.

Power play

Press reports in Spain and France speculated that Mr Lemierre was given a second four-year term at the EBRD because of concerns that Paris would have too much influence within international organizations if he moved to the IMF.

Jean-Claude Tricht is the current president of the European Central Bank.

The upcoming expansion of the European Union and the need for an experienced pair of hands at the EBRD also played a part, the papers said.

It has been something of a turnaround for Mr Rato, who less than a month lost his job in Spain after the ruling conservative party was beaten in general elections.

Mr Rato had earlier risked alienating France and Germany when he called on the European Commission to fine them after their budget deficits broke EU spending limits for yet another year.

Funded by 184 member countries the IMF gives advice and lends money to bring about economic reform.

Traditionally the top post at the IMF is held by a European, while its Washington-based sister lending institution, the World Bank, is run by a US national.

IMF 'not always to blame'
30 Dec 03  |  Business
Frenchman to head EBRD
22 May 00  |  Europe

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