UPDATE 1-NZ appoints Graeme Wheeler next central bank governor

Mon Jun 25, 2012 7:53pm EDT

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* Wheeler, RBNZ outsider

* World Bank, NZ Treasury background

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WELLINGTON, June 26 (Reuters) - New Zealand is to appoint an expatriate former World Bank senior official as its new central bank governor but does not expect any significant change in policy, the finance minister said on Tuesday.

Graeme Wheeler, currently a United States-based consultant, will be the next governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, replacing Alan Bollard who is stepping down after 10 years.

"Given his experience and standing, combined with his technical and leadership qualities, the board considered that he has all the qualities required to become governor and chief executive of the Reserve Bank," Finance Minister Bill English said in a statement.

Wheeler, a former senior official in the New Zealand Treasury and Debt Management Office, worked at the World Bank for 13 years, and emerged as a late dark-horse contender for the role.

"Mr Wheeler's extensive experience makes him a highly respected figure in world financial markets and within New Zealand," English said.

An analyst said Wheeler had the international experience and credentials, but likely had some catching up to do on New Zealand.

"I can imagine he will try, at least in the beginning, to maintain some continuity in policy," said Deutsche Bank chief economist Darren Gibbs.

"He will rely on his advisors a lot in the early stages, particularly in the intricacies of what's happening domestically."

The RBNZ has held its cash rate at a record low 2.5 percent for more than a year with tame inflation pressures and global uncertainty. It is expected to keep rates on hold until well into next year.

Before Wheeler takes up the post he and English will have to agree on a policy targets agreement (PTA), which sets out the governor's riding instructions for keeping inflation in check and supporting economic activity.

"The global financial crisis has focused some attention on monetary policy frameworks, and I want to ensure that the PTA continues to reflect best international practice," English said, adding that he did not foresee any major changes.

Wheeler replaces Alan Bollard, who will step down in September after 10 years.

The RBNZ's current deputy governor Grant Spencer was earlier touted as a potential successor, as was former RBNZ chief economist and current NZ Superannuation Fund chief executive, Adrian Orr.

(Reporting by Gyles Beckford; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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