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O’Donnell Says He’s Adding to Bank Knowledge as He Mulls BOE Job

Former Head of the U.K. civil Service Gus O'Donnell
Former head of the U.K. civil service Gus O'Donnell said, “I’m learning about bank regulation, I’m learning quite a lot about how banks operate, so that will be very useful to me as background for the job.” Photographer: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Gus O’Donnell, the former head of the U.K. civil service, said he’s using his new job to learn about banks and financial regulation as he considers whether to apply to replace Mervyn King as Bank of England governor.

“When they do advertise it, I’ll make up my mind whether I want to apply or not,” O’Donnell, who joined Toronto-Dominion Bank this month, said in an interview yesterday in London. “I haven’t made up my mind one way or another.”

King is scheduled to leave the bank in June 2013 after serving the maximum two five-year terms allowed. Potential successors include Bank of England Deputy Governor Paul Tucker and Financial Services Authority Chairman Adair Turner. Goldman Sachs Asset Management Chairman Jim O’Neill told Bloomberg News on June 22 that he would consider replacing King if asked.

The hiring process comes at a time when the institution is gaining new powers to regulate the financial system. O’Donnell, who attended Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee meetings as a government representative while at the U.K. Treasury, was named by Canadian lender Toronto-Dominion as a strategic adviser to Chief Executive Officer Edmund Clark on June 11. He said that his new job should give him skills that will help in any application when King’s job is advertised.

“I’m learning a lot between now and then,” O’Donnell said. “I’m learning about bank regulation, I’m learning quite a lot about how banks operate, so that will be very useful to me as background for the job.”

O’Donnell is ranked at odds of 4/1 at bookmaker Paddy Power Plc to become next Bank of England governor. That means a 1-pound ($1.56) winning bet would yield a 4-pound profit. Tucker is favorite for the post, at 5/6, while Turner is 6/1.

O’Donnell made the comments on the sidelines of a conference organized by Demos Finance in partnership with the Financial Times and Cass Business School. As U.K. Cabinet Secretary, he was the most senior official in the British civil service from 2005 to the end of 2011, serving in that role under three prime ministers. He has also been the U.K.’s executive director to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

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