Germany will not propose other candidates for ECB: reports

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Germany will likely not propose a new candidate to head the European Central Bank (ECB) after German central bank chief Axel Weber apparently threw in the towel, media reports said Thursday.

Weber's decision, which has not been officially confirmed but is widely assumed to be the case, would represent an "affront" to Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Financial Times Deutschland newspaper said.

Merkel "will not send another German into the arena, because you don't switch horses in mid stream," the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) quoted a source close to the government as saying.

"There is only one German who would meet the criteria to head the ECB, and that is Axel Weber," the Sueddeutsche Zeitung quoted another government source as saying.

Speculation ran rampant Wednesday after press reports said Weber would bow out of the running to become the next head of the world's second most powerful central bank, and move to the biggest private German bank, Deutsche Bank.

The FAZ said Weber would run Deutsche Bank in a duo with Anshu Jain, a bank insider who has also been mooted as a possible replacement for the bank's CEO Josef Ackermann when he steps down in 2012.

Weber, a leading candidate to replace Jean-Claude Trichet of France as ECB president in October, decided to drop out of the running according to several newspapers because of a lack of clear support from Merkel's government.

The popular daily Bild quoted Weber as saying: "I do not want to become a political toy" or the object of "a horse trade."

Those remarks caught the German government by surprise.

Newspapers said Merkel dissuaded Weber from officially announcing his decision Wednesday to gain time to organise his succession.

Weber is known for his brusque manner, and has irritated European Union leaders with outspoken opposition to ECB purchases of eurozone government debt.

© 2011 AFP

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