Goldman’s O’Neill Reported Among Candidates for BOE Chief

Goldman Sachs Asset Management Chairman Jim O'Neill
Goldman Sachs Asset Management Chairman Jim O'Neill. Photographer: Thomas Lee/Bloomberg

Goldman Sachs Asset Management Chairman Jim O’Neill was reported by the Sunday Times to be a candidate for Bank of England governor, the second Goldman Sachs Group Inc. alumnus linked to the race to replace Mervyn King.

O’Neill, 55, is a contender and may have been approached by U.K. Treasury officials several months ago, the London-based newspaper reported yesterday, without saying how it obtained the information. O’Neill declined to comment.

King is scheduled to leave the bank in June 2013 after serving the maximum two five-year terms allowed. Speculation in press reports on potential successors has intensified in recent weeks to include the former chief of the U.K. civil service, Gus O’Donnell, and Mark Carney, head of Canada’s central bank and a former employee of New York-based Goldman Sachs.

When asked in September 2007 if he would be interested in the role at a time when the government was considering whether to reappoint King, O’Neill told John Dawson on Bloomberg Television that he couldn’t imagine that “anyone would be daft enough to offer it to me.” He added that he very much enjoyed his then job as head of global economic research at Goldman Sachs.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has said there will be a proper process to appoint the governor, according to a Treasury spokesman asked for comment. The process hasn’t begun and won’t start until the fall, said the official, who declined to be named in line with government practice. A Bank of England spokesman referred the matter to the Treasury.

‘Good Candidates’

“We’ll have to make a decision in due course,” Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, said today in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “I’m sure there are a lot of good candidates around.”

Odds offered by Dublin-based bookmaker Paddy Power Plc on O’Neill becoming the next Bank of England governor were at 5-1, meaning a successful 1-pound ($1.63) wager would return a 5-pound profit. Deputy Governor Paul Tucker is the favorite at 3-1, followed by John Varley, former chief executive officer of Barclays Plc, at 7-2. Financial Services Authority Chairman Adair Turner and Gus O’Donnell are tied for third place at 4-1.

Goldman Sachs has historically been a breeding ground for central bank chiefs. Carney, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley worked there. Bank of England policy maker Ben Broadbent was also employed by the bank, reporting to O’Neill.

O’Neill took up his current position in 2010 after a career at the investment bank covering currencies and economics, during which time he created the BRICs acronym to describe large emerging markets. Before joining in 1995, he worked at Swiss Bank Corp. and Bank of America Corp. In 2010, he led a group of investors seeking to buy English soccer club Manchester United.

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