View from City Road: France in front at the EBRD

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The Independent Online
With a field of four in the starting stalls, a Frenchman now looks set to win the Jacques Attali Memorial Stakes. There will be loud groans of no, we can't allow that again.

Mr Attali's egregious record as president of the marble-halled European Bank for Reconstruction and Development at Broadgate, London, reinforced anti-Gallic prejudice to the point at which it was assumed that a Frenchman would never again be allowed the job.

But in the calmer confines of the members' enclosure, the board of the EBRD is near a consensus that its new man should be Jacques de Larosiere, head of the French central bank and the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

As nominations closed last night, the other candidates were Henning Christophersen, Danish vice-president of the European Community, Giuliano Amato, the former Italian prime minister, and Leszek Balcerowicz, the former Polish finance minister. But late last night a bank official announced that the EC had reached a consensus on putting Mr de Larosiere forward as its sole nominee for the position.

Mr de Larosiere steered the IMF through the Third World debt crisis, was involved at the fund in Eastern European debt reconstruction and is at ease in the mainly English-speaking world of international banking. He is the obvious choice for a bank that is wounded but not dead: this week it approved 11 new projects worth ecu370m (pounds 280m).

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