August 2, 2019 / 8:03 PM / 18 days ago

Bulgaria's Georgieva climbs from communism to IMF head hopeful

FILE PHOTO: World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva addresses during the opening of COP24 UN Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice, Poland December 3, 2018. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Bulgarian economist Kristalina Georgieva has been named European candidate to lead the International Monetary Fund after years of experience at its twin organisation the World Bank.

Georgieva, 65, is a centre-right politician who grew up in Bulgaria under communism.

Praised for her direct approach, she is a self-made woman who climbed the World Bank’s ranks to become chief executive in 2017, after nearly seven years in Brussels as European commissioner for international cooperation then for the bloc’s budget.

At the top of her Twitter profile, she has posted a black-and-white picture of her family, with the comment: “From a village in Bulgaria to CEO of the World Bank - this is what possibility looks like!”

EU governments whittled down a list of contenders to choose Georgieva even though, for her to take the job, there would have to be a change in IMF rules requiring that managing directors must be less than 65 years old when appointed.

Georgieva’s name has cropped up for several other European and global top jobs in recent years. She was a candidate to run the United Nations in 2016, and last month European Union leaders considered her for the presidency of the Commission and the European Council, two of the top decision-making bodies.

Her nomination to lead the IMF has been seen by some as a way to mollify eastern European countries in the EU’s 28-nation club, after no candidate from the former communist bloc were selected for any of the five EU top jobs up for grabs after May’s European elections.

Georgieva has built a reputation at the World Bank as a champion of gender equality and leader in the global fight against climate change.

Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova and Francesco Guarascio; Editing by John Chalmers and Andrew Cawthorne

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