Madame Nouy set to take on Europe's banks

Wed Nov 27, 2013 2:05am EST
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By Eva Taylor

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The woman set to police Europe's banks has spent much of her 40-year career rising through the ranks of French financial supervision, once a bastion of male domination.

Danièle Nouy will become the most powerful woman in European banking when she takes the helm at the industry's new watchdog, the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM), due to come into force next November. She will oversee the euro zone's 6,000-odd lenders and will have the power to order a bank closed, if necessary.

"We need a comprehensive integration of financial supervision, in other words more Europe," Nouy said at a conference in May, long before she was put forward for the job.

On Wednesday, she appears before the European parliament to answer questions about how she would approach the post.

A unified system for policing banks across the currency bloc is a key part of Europe's move towards banking union, the most significant attempt at closer European integration since the launch of the euro more than ten years ago. The aim is to win back the investor confidence needed for a return to prosperity.

Nouy has barely a year to build up the new institution under the roof of the European Central Bank (ECB), doing so virtually from scratch. She will have to hire 1,000 staff, develop a manual defining supervisory procedure, and put the largest banks through an in-depth check on their balance sheets to shine light on their risk exposures and capital strength.

She will work with national supervisors, the European Banking Authority (EBA), which writes the rules Nouy and her team will enforce, the EU Commission and the EU Parliament, building bridges to overcome cultural and political differences.

Nouy, 63, will join a growing number of women at the top of the international financial system. In the United States Janet Yellen is set to succeed Ben Bernanke as chairwoman of the Federal Reserve. In Russia, Elvira Nabiullina became the country's central bank governor in June. Christine Lagarde has been head of the International Monetary Fund since 2011.   Continued...