Bloomberg News

France’s Coeure Said to Be Backed by Ministers for ECB Board

November 29, 2011

Nov. 29 (Bloomberg) -- France’s Benoit Coeure has been backed by euro-area finance ministers to succeed Italy’s Lorenzo Bini Smaghi on the European Central Bank’s Executive Board, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Coeure’s nomination must now be approved by European Union leaders, which is likely to happen when they meet on Dec. 8.

Coeure, currently chief economist at the French Treasury, would give Europe’s second-largest economy a voice on the ECB board, which it has lacked since Jean-Claude Trichet’s term as the central bank’s president ended last month. France supported Italian Mario Draghi taking over from Trichet on condition Italy get Bini Smaghi to step down early to make way for a Frenchman in the ECB’s six-member executive.

Bini Smaghi on Nov. 11 resigned from his post, effective at the end of the year, and will join Harvard University’s Center for International Affairs in 2012.

Bini Smaghi’s departure will mean four of the ECB’s board members have left this year. In addition to Trichet and Austria’s Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell, whose term ended in May, Germany’s Juergen Stark said he will step down at the end of the year in protest at the central bank’s bond purchases. His term was due to end in May, 2014.

Stark will be replaced by German Deputy Finance Minister Joerg Asmussen. Germany wants Asmussen to take Stark’s role as the ECB’s chief economist, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said today. A German has held the position since the bank’s founding in 1998.

The Handelsblatt newspaper reported earlier today that France may push for Coeure to take the chief economist post, without saying where it got the information.

Coeure, 42, joined the Treasury in 1995 after working for Insee, France’s national statistics office. By 1999 he became head of the ministry’s foreign-exchange market and economic- policies unit, before moving on to Agence France Tresor, where he gained market experience handling sovereign debt sales. He became deputy chief executive of the AFT in 2002 and was appointed chief executive in 2006.

--Editors: Matthew Brockett, James Hertling

To contact the reporters on this story: Stephanie Bodoni in Brussels at sbodoni@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net


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