December 20, 2017 / 1:30 PM / 3 months ago

Euro member Finland prepares search for new central bank chief

HELSINKI, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Eurozone member Finland will next spring start its search for a successor to central bank Governor Erkki Liikanen who has held the post for 14 years and former top EU economic official Olli Rehn is considered favourite for the job, analysts said.

Liikanen, who also sits on the rate-setting Governing Council of the European Central Bank, will complete his second and final seven-year term in the post in July 2018.

“We’ve outlined the timetable and the process will start probably not until March-April, so that the time between the nomination and the start would be as short as possible,” Matti Vanhanen, the head of the central bank’s parliamentary supervisory council said on Wednesday.

Rehn is seen as the strongest candidate if he chooses to apply, analysts said. He has spent a decade at the European Commission, part of that as the EU’s top economic official during the euro zone debt crisis.

Last year, he quit his post as a government minister in Finland for membership of the Bank of Finland’s board.

“It will be hard to bypass him,” said Timo Hirvonen, economist at FIM bank.

“Rehn already has experience from the ECB after sitting at the council meetings (during the debt crisis). He has the right kind of background and he also handles the Finnish economy.”

Hirvonen, who listed former prime ministers Jyrki Katainen and Alexander Stubb as well as ECB supervisory board member Pentti Hakkarainen as other possible candidates, said he did not expect major policy changes after Liikanen’s retirement.

“Liikanen has largely backed (Mario) Draghi, he hasn’t presented too much of his own views of how monetary policy should be done.” (Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

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