UPDATE 1-France says backs UK's Chakrabarti for new term as EBRD chief

Thu Mar 3, 2016 2:59pm EST
 
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(Adds French confirmation)

By Marc Jones and Michel Rose

LONDON/PARIS, March 3 (Reuters) - France backs Britain's Suma Chakrabarti's second term as head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the office of the French finance minister said on Thursday, confirming an earlier Reuters report.

"I confirm our support to Suma Chakrabarti," a spokesman for Michel Sapin told Reuters.

One of the sources, a European finance ministry official who requested anonymity, had said that the French had written this week to the Secretary-General of the EBRD expressing their support for Chakrabarti.

"It is of course still early in the process, but the French letter follows other countries who have already spoken up in his favour," the source said.

Chakrabarti has been at the helm of the London-based development bank since 2012 and the move by France could deter potential challengers for the role, such as Poland's central bank governor Marek Belka. [nL8N1632D5

Nominations for the job close on March 11 and if there is a challenger the bank's members will vote at the bank's annual meeting in May.

The EBRD was created in 1991, originally to invest in the former Soviet bloc countries of eastern Europe to rebuild their economies and improve communist-era infrastructure.

Chakrabarti's four-year term has been a difficult one for the bank. In 2014, the EBRD stopped lending in Russia, traditionally its biggest market, after Western countries imposed sanctions on Moscow over Ukraine. It saw its first annual loss since the 2007-08 financial crisis.

But the EBRD has also continued to expand its reach. It is has started lending in euro zone crisis countries Greece and Cyprus. Lebanon is expected to be next, while China has become a member. (Reporting by Astrid Wendlandt; Editing by Dominic Evans)