Polish central banker may challenge British incumbent for EBRD job

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland's central bank chief may apply for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) [EBRD.UL] presidency this year, a Polish minister said on Wednesday, challenging a possible bid by Suma Chakrabarti for a second term.

The job had always gone to a French or German candidate until Chakrabarti's election in 2012, which was part of a complex series of swaps for top European institutional posts.

The bank's shareholders, dominated by G7 governments, may vote on the position at EBRD's annual meeting in May.

The Polish government on Wednesday signalled its support for Marek Belka, whose term at Poland's central bank expires in June, and the British government voiced its support for Chakrabarti after he indicated that he would reapply last year.

"Marek Belka is considering taking up this position and the government is positive about it," Elzbieta Witek told private radio RMF FM. A final decision was yet to be made, she said.

Chakrabarti's four-year term has been a difficult one for the bank. Last year, it stopped lending in Russia, traditionally its biggest market, following Western sanctions against Moscow over its support of separatists in eastern Ukraine.

It also suffered its first annual loss since the financial crisis as the value of its Russian and Ukrainian assets tumbled.

The EBRD was set up in 1991 to invest in former Soviet bloc countries and has undergone an expansion in recent years to include Mongolia, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus and countries affected directly or indirectly by the Arab Spring uprisings, such as Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan.

(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski and Adrian Krajewski; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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