Search for new IMF head widens to include British candidate

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European governments widened their search for a new head of the International Monetary Fund, extending a deadline to 1800 GMT on Thursday so that Britain can put forward a candidate.

EU finance ministers, having failed to reach a consensus, will also hold a series of votes from Friday morning to choose their favorite of six candidates, a French finance ministry official and two other European sources said.

The five declared candidates are: Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch former head of euro zone finance ministers; Nadia Calvino, the Spanish economy minister; Olli Rehn, the Finnish central bank governor; Mario Centeno, the Portuguese chairman of euro zone finance ministers; and Bulgaria's World Bank chief executive Kristalina Georgieva.

An as yet unnamed British candidate - who is not expected to be Bank of England governor Mark Carney - will join them.

France said the decision to allow a British candidate was made because London had a new prime minister, but that all 28 EU countries still wanted a single European candidate.

“All the ministers share the goal of a consensus on a single European candidate,” the French finance ministry official said.

The top job at the Washington-based global lender has historically been filled by a European. Outgoing IMF head Christine Lagarde is taking over from Mario Draghi as European Central Bank president.

Officials have told Reuters that Carney, who holds Canadian, British and Irish passports, was not considered European enough.