Europe Development Bank Holds First Competitive Leadership Vote

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which invests as much as 11 billion euros ($14 billion) a year in nations from Russia to Egypt, holds the first competitive leadership vote in its two-decade history this week.

President Thomas Mirow, 59, who’s running for a second four-year term, faces challengers from the U.K., France, Poland and Serbia in the May 18 ballot among the London-based bank’s shareholders. The European Union, which has chosen all five heads to date, failed to back a single candidate. Pitching for the role will begin today.

The EBRD has invested 71 billion euros since it was created in 1991 to support the transition of eastern Europe’s former communist nations to market-driven democracy. The bank has led efforts to avert a banking-industry collapse in the region, which was hardest hit by the global financial crisis that followed Lehman Brothers Holding Inc.’s 2008 bankruptcy.

The U.K. has nominated Suma Chakrabarti, permanent secretary at the Justice Ministry and formerly at the Department for International Development. The other candidates are France’s Philippe de Fontaine Vive Curtaz, vice president at the European Investment Bank, ex-Polish Prime Minister Jan-Krzysztof Bielecki and Bozidar Djelic, a former deputy premier of Serbia.

EU officials couldn’t agree on a candidate for the EBRD at a May 14 meeting in Brussels as France’s presidential election delayed bargaining over European posts including chairman of the group of euro-region finance ministers, a position currently held by Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker.

The 27 EU members carry the weighted-majority of votes among the EBRD’s 65 shareholders.

The bank is expanding its geographical scope to new democracies in the southern and eastern Mediterranean, with Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan in line to become recipients. Resources allocated to that region may reach as much as 2.5 billion euros a year this decade, the bank has said.

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