France's Christine Lagarde named first woman IMF chief

France's Christine Lagarde named first woman IMF chief

Lagarde, 55, is the first woman named to the top IMF post since the institution's inception in 1944.

"The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today selected Christine Lagarde to serve as IMF Managing Director and Madame Chairman of the Executive Board for a five-year term starting on July 5, 2011," an official IMF announcement said.

The IMF said the selection of Lagarde by the 24-member Executive Board, representing the IMF's 187 member countries, brings to conclusion the selection process initiated by the Executive Board on May 20.

During the process the Board met with Agustin Carstens of Mexico and Lagarde – the two aspirants for the post. She also won support from Europe, China and Russia.

"Based on the candidate profile that had been established, the Executive Board, after considering all relevant information on the candidacies, proceeded to select Lagarde by consensus. The Executive Board looks forward to Ms Lagarde effectively leading the International Monetary Fund," it said.

"The IMF has served its 187 member countries well during the global economic and financial crisis, transforming itself in many positive ways. I will make it my overriding goal that our institution continues to serve its entire membership with the same focus and the same spirit," said Lagarde.

Lagarde said she was honoured and delighted by her appointment.

"I am deeply honored by the trust placed in me by the Executive Board. I would like to thank the Fund's global membership warmly for the broad-based support I have received. I would also like to express my respect and esteem for my colleague and friend, Agustín Carstens," she said in her first official statement.

Lagarde also has had an extensive and noteworthy career as an anti-trust and labour lawyer, serving as a partner with the international law firm of Baker & McKenzie, where the partnership elected her as chairman in October 1999.

She held the top post at the firm until June 2005 when she was named to her initial ministerial post in France. Lagarde has degrees from Institute of Political Studies (IEP) and from the Law School of Paris X University, where she also lectured prior to joining Baker & McKenzie in 1981.

She takes over at a tumultuous time when emerging nations want a greater voice at the IMF and the organisation's reputation has been tarred by a scandal involving Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Strauss-Kahn resigned last month after being charged with sexually assaulting a New York City hotel housekeeper.

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