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EBRD: Chakrabarti steps up to the challenges

Now extended from a laggard emerging Europe to post-revolutionary Arab countries, the EBRD’s mandate has never been so stretched. But the multilateral lender’s new president, Suma Chakrabarti – its first British head – says that under him the institution has what it takes to change and fulfil its role.

Our ailing world lies awake in bed, patched up and medicated, shaking with Grexit-related night sweats, but Sir Suma Chakrabarti has other problems on his plate. The sixth president of the London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), a multilateral with tentacles that now reach 63 countries in six continents, isn’t happy at all.

Asked how it feels to be the first Brit nominated to a post usually divvied up by Berlin and Paris, his eyes narrow slightly and he leans forward and pauses. "Frankly," he says finally, "I’m really, really pissed off that you can’t get proper fish and chips in the company restaurant on a Friday."

Sir Suma Chakrabarti, the sixth president of the London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
Sir Suma Chakrabarti, the sixth president of the London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development 

Then he laughs – a hearty and jolly sound. It’s a sound you imagine can’t have been heard much when Thomas Mirow, a dour, by-the-book northern German politician, trudged these halls. But Mirow is gone, ousted in May 2012 by the EBRD’s fickle shareholders – maybe breaking the Franco-German lock on the bank’s top spot for good in the process – and Chakrabarti is in: a surprise move generally applauded by the global political and development communities.

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