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OPINION

Mercurial Michel in line for new role

Michel Pébéreau

The word from Paris is that BNP Paribas chairman and CEO Michel Pébéreau is more than a little distracted from his favourite pastime of reading science-fiction novels.

In January Jean-Claude Trichet, governor of the Banque de France, appeared in the dock to defend his behaviour during the bail-out of Crédit Lyonnais.

The prosecution alleges that he played a part in concealing huge losses at Lyonnais while head of France's treasury in the early 1990s. If convicted, his role at the central bank and as the next head of the European Central Bank is in jeopardy.

Sources say that the mercurial Pébéreau, who is said to have halted a Eurostar en route to London when the government announced a surprise auction of its stake in Crédit Lyonnais so he could make a phone call, may be in line for Trichet's job.

He certainly seems to have the right qualifications. Like Trichet, he graduated with flying colours from the Ecole Nationale d'Administration, the university for high-ranking civil servants, and both have long careers at the ministry of economics and finance behind them.

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