Top EU regulator Farkas to head banking lobbying group AFME

25 August 2019, 12:15 | Updated: 26 August 2019, 13:05

One of Europe's top banking regulators is in talks to head the trade body that leads the investment banking industry's lobbying effort across the EU.

Sky News has learnt that Adam Farkas, the executive director of the European Banking Authority (EBA) since 2011, is in advanced negotiations to become chief executive of the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME).

City sources said the appointment of Mr Farkas, a Hungarian national, could be finalised as early as this week.

If confirmed, Mr Farkas would replace Simon Lewis, a former head of communications for Gordon Brown during the last Labour government, in the coming months.

The appointment of AFME's next chief is seen as a vital one by the investment banking giants and other market participants which make up its membership.

The UK's imminent departure from the EU has been a focal point for the London-based lobbying group's work since before the 2016 referendum, with significant concern about the impact of a no-deal Brexit on the functioning of the continent's capital and financial markets.

AFME has been establishing a presence in Brussels and Frankfurt, and is shortly expected to do so in Paris.

The group‎ has been heavily involved in shaping the financial markets' response to EU-wide policy proposals such as the capital markets union and a financial transactions tax.

Mr Lewis is expected to step down when his contract runs out in October.

As a key figure in the supervision of Europe's biggest banks, Mr Farkas could be asked to delay his arrival at AFME.

Now in his second term at the EBA, he has played a leading role in the regulator's work‎, including its introduction of stress-testing for the region's most systemically important lenders - the likes of BNP Paribas in France, Germany's Deutsche Bank and Unicredit in Italy.

Prior to joining the EBA, Mr Farkas chaired Hungary's Financial Supervisory Authority, while he has also undertaken consulting work for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

He has worked for the Intesa Group and Allianz, the German financial services giant.

AFME said in a statement on Sunday: "We are in the very final stages of recruiting Simon Lewis's successor as CEO and until we have concluded the process we are unable to say anything further.‎"

The EBA did not respond to an enquiry from Sky News.