CEO of World Bank looks likely to replace Lagarde

6 Aug 19

Russia has said its backing pushes the EU’s nominee closer to replacing Christine Lagarde as the managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

Kristalina Georgieva

The finance ministry in Russia yesterday released a statement saying that Kristalina Georgieva, current chief executive of the World Bank, “seems to be the right choice”.

She was chosen by the EU as its preferred candidate on Friday, although this was reportedly after more than 12 hours of discussions as she did not initially receive the majority backing required amongst the European nations.

However, so long as all the EU countries on the IMF’s executive board vote for her, Russia’s backing looks likely to bring Georgieva closer to the 50% she needs to win the contest.

The EU’s and US’ share of the vote on the board, which decides who becomes managing director, together totals 44% and Russia has 2.59% of the vote. 

The US (which has 16.52% of the vote) is expected to back the European candidate to head the IMF because of a decades-old agreement, which also ensures the president of the World Bank is always American.

“Ms Georgieva needs to secure additional support from only a few countries,” the Russian finance ministry pointed out (she needs an additional 3.41% of the votes).

A Bulgarian national, her appointment would mark the first time in the IMF’s 75-year history it has been led by someone from an “emerging economy”.

The Russian finance ministry statement said: “Ms Georgieva is a brilliant diplomat, a comprehensively trained economist, a competent highly professional financier.

“In a situation of increasing protectionism in the global economy, her experience in solving development problems will come in handy as never before.

“Russia has a positive attitude towards the nomination of K. Georgieva and will be ready to support her during the upcoming vote.”

The World Bank also received other endorsements on Twitter, such as from the president of the Republic of Rwanda:

During the nomination process, Georgieva is on leave from her duties at the World Bank.

Group president at the World Bank David Malpass congratulated her on the nomination, which he said “reflects her strong global leadership on economics, finance and development”.

The IMF board needs to choose Lagarde’s replacement by 4 October and countries must send in their nominations by 6 September.

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