LONDON/ROME (Reuters) - France's Odile Renaud-Basso is set to become the next president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), sources said, with the lender expected to formally put on ice its plans to expand into Sub-Saharan Africa.
Governors are currently congregating virtually for their annual meeting, which will decide on the lender's strategy for the next five years on Wednesday, and elect a new president on Thursday.
A source close to the matter said earlier on Wednesday that Italy's former Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan had pulled out of the race for president.
Padoan and French Treasury head Renaud-Basso had been seen as the front runners for the position, with Poland's Finance Minister Tadeusz Koscinski also in the race.
The EBRD confirmed that the vote was now between Renaud-Basso and Koscinski.
Renaud-Basso is set to succeed Britain's Suma Chakrabarti, who finished his second four-year term earlier in the year. To be elected, a candidate has to receive the votes of a majority of governors, representing a majority of the total voting power of members.
The proposed new strategy will see the lender focus on projects that will help shift countries to a low-carbon economy and make green finance the majority of its business by 2025.
Policymakers are also expected to delay for some years a decision on expanding into Sub-Saharan Africa, originally planned for this year, in favour of focussing on its existing countries of operation.
The EBRD was set up in 1991 to invest in the ex-communist economies of eastern Europe, and now operates in 38 economies, chiefly in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and central Asia.
"The COVID pandemic has hit all our countries of operations hard," EBRD governor for Spain, Nadia Calvino said in a recorded video message at the opening of the meeting.
"Our priority now is on crisis response, on recovery, and on building back better to accelerate transition."
The board will also decide on a request from Iraq to become an EBRD shareholder.
(Reporting by Karin Strohecker in London and Giuseppe Fonte in Rome; Writing by Karin Strohecker; Editing by Mark Potter and Jan Harvey)