christine-lagarde.jpgFrench Finance Minister, Christine LaGarde has been named the first woman to head the International Monetary Fund (IMF), keeping the international lender in the hands of the Europeans at a time of growing concern over a possible Greek debt default.

The 55-year-old begins her five-year term on July 5th and takes over as managing director from Dominique Strauss-Kahn who is currently under house arrest in the US on charges of sexual assault.

Ms Lagarde received backing from America, Europe and key emerging nations including China, India and Brazil on the IMF Executive Board to beat her nearest rival, Mexico’s Agustin Carstens.

“I am honoured and delighted that the board has entrusted me with the position of MD of the IMF!” she wrote on her Twitter account following the announcement.

Chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne described Ms Lagarde as the “best person for the job”, adding “She has been a strong advocate for countries tackling high budget deficits and living within their means.”

US Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner called her an “exceptional talent”, while French president Nicolas Sarkozy described the appointment as a “victory for France”.