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New SNB chief may be named in February: paper

A general view shows the building of the Swiss National Bank in Zurich
A general view shows the building of the Swiss National Bank in Zurich

ZURICH (Reuters) - The new Swiss National Bank chief could be named in February, sooner than had been expected after the resignation of former chairman Philipp Hildebrand earlier this month, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

Hildebrand was forced to step down after emails cast doubt on his claims not to have known about a big dollar trade made by his wife weeks before he imposed a cap on the soaring Swiss franc.

Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said the process of finding a successor could take until May. The government makes the appointment based on the recommendation of the bank council, the SNB's supervisory body.

Yet citing sources close to the government, the newspaper Der Sonntag reported that the announcement could come as early as February.

SNB Vice Chairman Thomas Jordan, who is now heading the bank ad interim, is a likely candidate to get the job permanently, the paper said. Fritz Zurbruegg, who is now in charge of the office of financial planning, is well liked both by the cabinet and at the SNB, the paper added.

In a separate interview with the same paper, Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Josef Ackermann appeared to rule himself out of the running for the SNB job, adding that the uproar over the currency trade made by Hildebrand's wife had not hurt the bank's ability to defend the cap of 1.20 per euro on the Swiss franc.

"I was never asked. I also never said no," he was quoted as saying. "I wouldn't be available."

Ackermann said he would be spending more time in Switzerland as of late May, when he is due to retire as chief executive after more than a decade as the head of Deutsche.

However, when asked whether this would also mean he would be spending more time in Switzerland in a professional capacity, he said: "There are people who think so."

And when the paper asked him what he thought, Ackermann answered: "Pretty much the same thing."

(Reporting by Catherine Bosley; editing by Sophie Walker)

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