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France says no European deal done on IMF boss

France, tipped by some to field a potential successor for IMF chief Rodrigo Rato, said on Thursday it believed no deal had been done yet on who should get the job, despite German declarations that a consensus was emerging.

The comment by President Nicolas Sarkozy's spokesman came a day after German finance minister Peer Steinbrueck said many in Europe had a name in mind to replace Spaniard Rato when he bows out as managing director of the International Monetary Fund. The top job at the IMF has always gone to a European but the pressure is mounting for a more open competition as emerging market economies play a rapidly growing role in the global economy alongside the long-industrialized powers. “I don't think there is an agreement on a candidate,” David Martinon, Sarkozy's spokesman, told reporters when asked about the matter during a weekly meeting with the media. The French finance ministry pointed out that Rato, who said unexpectedly last week he planned to quit for personal reasons, would not be leaving until October and said Paris would discuss the succession with others in due time. “We will consult our European partners on the designation of his successor,” said a ministry spokeswoman, replying to queries on the issue during a regular Internet-based media briefing.

A European government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters on Thursday of three names currently under discussion. They were Polish former central bank chief Leszek Balcerowicz, Frenchman Jean Lemierre and Italian central bank boss Mario Draghi. A spokesman for Lemierre said on Thursday he was fully committed to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the London-based institution of which he is president. The Bank of Italy said last week Draghi was not interested in the post, leaving Poland's Balcerowicz's name in headlights as a possible contender with the potential plus of coming from an emerging market country. Other names are circulating in the media as possible, and Sweden's former prime minister, Goran Persson, joined the ranks on Thursday when his name was floated in a letter to London's Financial Times by Swedish central banker, Leif Pagrotsky. The IMF job has always gone to Europe under a deal where the United States appoints the head of the World Bank, the other Washington-based funding agency created after World War Two, though the arrangement no longer goes unquestioned. (