A battle for the presidency of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is in full swing ahead of its annual meeting next month, with current head Thomas Mirow not certain of holding on.
EU ministers failed to reach a consensus over the presidency at a Copenhagen meeting in late March and the Financial Times said that German national Mirow was favourite to be appointed to a second four-year term.
France meanwhile is keen to push its candidate, Philippe de Fontaine Vive Curtaz, the current deputy head of the European Investment Bank.
Others in the running include former Serbian deputy prime minister Bozidar Djelic, ex-Polish prime minister Jan Krzysztof Bielecki and top British civil servant Suma Chakrabarti.
The latter's candidacy has raised eyebrows because there was thought to be an unwritten and unofficial rule that a Briton would not run for the presidency because the bank is headquartered in London.
A final decision will be made by the EBRD's 65 governors at their annual gathering in London on May 18-19, should European Union finance ministers first fail to reach an agreement.
Former deputy German finance minister Mirow has been widely credited with successfully dealing with the fallout of the 2008 global financial crisis and subsequent worldwide recession which wreaked havoc on the ex-Soviet bloc.
The EBRD, which is owned by 63 governments as well as the European Union and the European Investment Bank, was founded in 1991 to help former Eastern European communist countries switch and adapt to a market economy.
Under Mirow's stewardship, the bank has agreed to begin investing in North Africa and the Middle East following the popular uprisings in the Arab Spring.
"Mirow has done a decent job steering the EBRD through the financial crisis and the big recession, while giving cautious guidance to banks on the risks and pitfalls of emerging Europe's financial markets," IHS Global Insight economist Ralf Weigert told AFP.
"The job of the EBRD president is still an important one and should be assigned to a safe pair of hands. From a rational standpoint, there is hardly anything major that speaks against Mirow.
"Politics is a different matter and the French might insist on having the final word but I don't think that this strategy will bear out eventually," Weigert added.
Mirow, 59, took over from French predecessor Jean Lemierre, who spent eight years at the helm and recently has focused attention on North Africa.
Mirow has also overseen the so-called Vienna initiative, aimed at keeping western Europe's major banks in central Europe in the wake of global economic chaos of 2008.
The EBRD last week reported first quarter net profit almost doubled to a record 637 million euros ($840 million) in the first three months from 330 million euros in the same period last year.
Earnings were boosted by strong net interest income and a recovery in the value of the bank's equity investments.
The EBRD also ploughed a record high 1.9 billion euros into investment projects across central and eastern Europe during the period, up from 1.1 billion euros last time around.
"This has been a strong first quarter," Mirow said in the bank's results statement.
"At a time when credit remains restricted in many markets, these figures show that the EBRD has an important role to play in supporting growth.
"With record volumes and sound profitability and capital position, the bank is in excellent shape going into its annual meeting."