Jens Stoltenberg will become Norway's next central bank governor when his tenure as NATO secretary-general ends later this year, the Norwegian government announced Friday.
"I am grateful for the trust and am looking forward to taking on the job," Stoltenberg told an online news conference regarding the role he is set to start on December 1.
The current governor of Norges Bank, 70-year-old Oystein Olsen, is set to retire after holding the position since the beginning of 2011.
Former Norway PM with financial experience
Stoltenberg, 62, was the Norwegian finance minister from 1996 to 2000 and prime minister from 2000 to 2001. He became Norway's PM again in 2005, a position he held for a further eight years.
He will relinquish his role as NATO head at the end of September. "Mr. Stoltenberg has made clear that until that time, his focus remains firmly on his NATO responsibilities," an official from the alliance said in a statement.
Best person for the job
Finance Minister Trygve Slagsvold Vedum said he wanted to find "the best central bank governor for Norway, and I am confident that it is Jens Stoltenberg."
"The combination of financial background, understanding of society and a management experience few in Norway have, makes him very suitable as top manager of Norges Bank," he said in a statement.
He added that deputy governor Ida Wolden Bache will act as interim chief of the bank until Stoltenberg is able to assume the role.
During the press conference, Stoltenberg was questioned over his close personal relationship with Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store, which could affect the bank's impartiality. Both are members of the Labor Party, but as the governor of the central bank, Stoltenberg has to be independent of the government.
"I have long experience from having friendships with people and I have integrity in relation not to sharing information when relevant. NATO is an example. I have dealt with many people where I have to take care of independence and not share much information," Stoltenberg said.
He became NATO secretary-general in 2014 and after a successful first term, his mandate at the Western military alliance was extended.
Stoltenberg has been praised for steering NATO through a difficult period, particularly during Donald Trump's stint as US president. At the time, Washington threatened not to help member countries that weren't spending enough on defense.
Theresa May among potential successors
His appointment at the helm of Norwegian banking comes as NATO plays a key role in the crisis between Russia and the West.
There is no obvious successor for Stoltenberg at NATO. According to alliance sources, former British Prime Minister Theresa May, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, former EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis have all been touted as possible candidates to succeed Stoltenberg.
jsi/sms (Reuters, dpa, AP)