Applications closed for top Bank of England post

LONDON -- The deadline for applications to be the next head of the Bank of England, the U.K.'s top monetary authority, closed Monday with one of the leading contenders announcing he had decided not to pursue the position.

Former Cabinet Secretary Gus O'Donnell, touted as a strong contender for the 300,000 pound ($480,000) position, told the Financial Times Monday that he did not apply for the top job because he has other priorities after working 33 years in the public sector.

A high-level panel will now review the applicants' qualifications for the position. The new head of the Bank will set interest rates and money supply policy for the U.K. and will join U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke and President of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi in helping the world recover from the global financial crisis.

The frontrunners are thought to include deputy governor Paul Tucker and head of the U.K.'s City watchdog, the Financial Services Authority, Adair Turner.

The next governor will play a central role in trying to steer Britain out of a sustained recession at a time of severe cuts in public spending to bring down the government's deficit, which stands at about 7.7 percent of the country's (EURO)1.9 trillion gross domestic product. They will also have to bring down the country's rate of inflation, which stands at 2.5 percent.

Current governor Mervyn King plans to retire in June, 2013. The panel judging applicants includes Nicholas Macpherson, permanent secretary to the Treasury, and deputy Tom Scholar. The Treasury said it seeks a person of "undisputed integrity and standing" to fill the position.