April 11, 2018 / 11:40 AM / 10 days ago

UPDATE 1-Rehn faces Hakkarainen in race for top job at Finland's central bank

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HELSINKI, April 11 (Reuters) - The European Union’s former top economic official Olli Rehn and European Central Bank supervisory board member Pentti Hakkarainen are among 10 applicants seeking to become the next governor of the Bank of Finland, the central bank said on Wednesday.

Current governor Erkki Liikanen, who is also a member of the European Central Bank’s rate-setting governing council, will complete his second and final seven-year term in July.

Rehn, currently the Bank of Finland’s deputy governor, announced his candidacy last week. He is widely considered as the favourite for the job.

The 56-year-old, with a doctorate in economics from Oxford University, spent a decade at the European Commission, and during the euro zone debt crisis was economic and monetary affairs commissioner.

In that role, he became known for advocating strict fiscal discipline and structural reforms for troubled European states.

In 2016, Rehn quit his post as a government minister in Finland to become a member of the Bank of Finland’s board.

“I would say Rehn is the favourite here, due to his experience and knowledge,” said Jan Von Gerich, an analyst at Nordea Bank.

“If a small country wants to have a wider impact on the ECB, the person must have certain qualities to enter the right circles there.”

Major policy changes are not expected after the departure of Liikanen, who is known for largely backing ECB President Mario Draghi.

Other candidates for the job include Timo Loyttyniemi, the vice chairman at the EU’s Single Resolution Board, and member of parliament Juhana Vartiainen.

A group of lawmakers at the bank’s parliamentary supervisory council will conduct the interviews. Finland’s president Sauli Niinisto is due to nominate the new governor in May. (Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Mark Potter)

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