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Wednesday, 12 April, 2000, 08:45 GMT 09:45 UK
Koehler: a 'tough pragmatist'
Koehler: well known in the world of international finance
The new director general of the International Monetary Fund, Horst Koehler, was not Europe's first choice for the job.

The European Union's first candidate, Caio Koch-Weser, was rejected by the administration in Washington.

So what has the 57-year-old German father-of-two got that Mr Koch-Weser hadn't?

For one thing, he has experience in turning around organisations that are as troubled as the International Monetary Fund.

Mr Koehler's last job was President of the troubled European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

When he took the helm in September 1998, the EBRD was in deep trouble.

Given the job of boosting economic regeneration in Eastern Europe, the bank had made headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Numerous investments had gone wrong, and the bank seemed to be better at spending on its plush headquarters than any of its clients.

Mr Koehler quickly managed to get the EBRD out of the headlines, out of the red and refocus its efforts on Eastern Europe.

IMF staff beware

Success came at the price of popularity.

Mr Koehler has been described by some as a "tough pragmatist". Others have suggested that he is abrupt, if not blunt.

Mr Koehler himself says that he is "speaking candidly".

Staff at the IMF may wish they had got mild-mannered Caio Koch-Weser instead.

Entering the world stage

Mr Koehler entered the stage of international finance from an unlikely quarter, Germany's network of local and provincial savings banks.

A card-carrying member of then-Chancellor Kohl's Christian Democratic party, he was moved into the job of president of Germany's Savings Bank Association, a post he held from 1993 to 1998.

Neither that nor his PhD in economics were enough to qualify him for the EBRD job.

His real strength - and the reason why he got the IMF job - is his experience in the field of European monetary diplomacy.

As junior finance minister from 1990 to 1993 he was instrumental in drafting the Maastricht Treaty.

As an architect of Europe's Economic and Monetary Union, and a former 'sherpa' of Chancellor Kohl at various G7 summits, he is well known on the scene of international finance.

He also was Deputy Governor for Germany at the World Bank.

These experiences helped him overcome his lack of experience in other areas. Only former finance ministers and central bank presidents have held the position so far.

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10 Nov 99 | The Economy
IMF trouble-shooter steps down
29 Sep 98 | Business Basics
The IMF and World Bank
24 Mar 00 | Business
New IMF chief pledges reform
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