French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde on Tuesday was elected the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, maintaining Europe's grasp on the top job at global lender.
She begins her five-year term July 5 amid an escalating debt crisis in Europe and growing fears that Greece will default.
The executive board, after considering all relevant information on the candidacies, proceeded to select Ms. Lagarde by consensus, the IMF said in a statement.
Lagarde, 55, is the first woman to lead the IMF, succeeding Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned in May to defend himself against charges of sexual assault against a hotel maid in New York.
Lagarde's victory over Mexico's Central Bank Governor Agustin Carstens was assured after the United States made its support clear and emerging market economies China, Brazil and Russia did the same.
She will have to immediately deal with an IMF-European Union effort to keep debt-stricken Greece afloat and focus on potentially thorny IMF spillover reports that analyze the economic and policy actions of the world's major economies.
Minister Lagarde's exceptional talent and broad experience will provide invaluable leadership for this indispensable institution at a critical time for the global economy, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a statement.
(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Paul Simao, Jan Paschal and Andrew Hay)