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Spain's likely new government seeks crisis manager for economy

Source: Reuters - Fri 11th Nov 2011
Spain's likely new government seeks crisis manager for economy

Centre-right opposition leader Mariano Rajoy, poised to win Spain's November 20 parliamentary election, is seeking an internationally respected figure for economy minister to win over nervous investors in the deepening euro zone crisis.

Analysts and insiders from Rajoy's People's Party (PP) say he wants a manager with clout and experience, but not necessarily someone from within the party.

The PP could separate the Economy Ministry into two, with one for economy and one for finance, as it was under the last Centre-right government.

Rajoy, expected to oust the Socialists who have been in power for more than seven years, will implement drastic spending cuts and economic reforms that could revive production in the medium term but will push the economy into recession next year.

Following are some of the names most frequently mentioned for Economy Minister by political and financial sources:

Luis de Guindos (51)

De Guindos is director of the respected Spanish business school Instituto de Empresa and an independent board member of the energy group Endesa. He is said to speak with Rajoy frequently.

He served as economy secretary - a high-ranking position reporting to the Economy Minister - under the previous conservative Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar from 2002 to 2004. He also held other key positions within the ministry from 1996.

De Guindos was chief executive of Lehman Brothers Spain and Portugal 2006-2008, and later responsible for the financial division of PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Cristobal Montoro (61)

Montoro heads the People's Party economic team and acts as a kind of shadow economy minister. He sits in the European Parliament for the PP, as well as in the lower house of parliament in Spain.

Montoro was economy secretary, also under Aznar, from 1996 to 2000 and then finance minister from 2000 to 2004.

Some political pundits are doubtful Montoro has the international clout to make the position of economy minister in the current climate, though his place close to Rajoy is likely to guarantee some important post within the economic team.

Josep Pique (56)

A Catalan businessman and politician, Josep Pique is chairman of the Spanish airline Vueling and president of the influential Barcelona-based think tank Circulo de Economia.

He served in the PP government from 1996 to 2003 first as industry minister, then government spokesman and later foreign minister and minister of science.

From 2003 to 2007, Pique headed the PP in Catalonia, a region where the party has traditionally been weak.

Fernando Becker (56)

Head of corporate resources at the Spanish energy group Iberdrola, Becker holds a doctorate in economics.

He was previously the president of the state lender, the Official Credit Institute, under the Aznar government and up until 1999.

He also served as an economics advisor to the regional government of Castilla y Leon.

Becker is said to be close to the conservative think tank FAES, which is presided over by Aznar. And he attended college with Rajoy.

Francisco Gonzalez (67)

Gonzalez has been chairman and chief executive of Spain's second largest bank BBVA since 2000. He is the vice-chairman of the Institute of International Finance (IIF) and sits on the International advisory committee of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Although Gonzalez speaks frequently with Rajoy and has well-established ties to the PP, he is not seen as likely to jump at a political position.

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