Weber to leave Bundesbank

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The Independent Online

Axel Weber will step down as head of the Bundesbank a year before his term ends, the German government said yesterday, formally ending his chances of becoming the next president of the European Central Bank.

"Bundesbank president, Axel Weber, told the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, that he would like to step down on 30 April, 2011 at the end of his seventh year in office," a government spokesman said.

Mr Weber, 53, an inflation-fighting monetary "hawk", was widely seen as the frontrunner to succeed Jean-Claude Trichet at the head of the ECB in October. Eurozone leaders are expected to approve a nominee by the summer. Italy is pushing the candidacy of its central banker Mario Draghi but other contenders include Luxembourg's Yves Mersch and Finnish central Bank chief Erkki Liikanen.

The ECB has played a crucial role in responding to the crisis, buying the bonds of debt-stricken peripheral eurozone countries as part of a concerted push to calm markets. Mr Weber's public criticism of that decision may have cost him the top job.

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