Tom Scholar has said he is "deeply honoured" to have been named as the next permanent secretary to the Treasury.
Cambridge-educated Scholar is currently David Cameron's top adviser on Europe, and heads up the European and Global Issues Secretariat in the Cabinet Office.
He has extensive Treasury experience, having previously served as second perm sec at the Treasury, and working as Gordon Brown's principal private secretary when he was chancellor. Scholar was also chief of staff to Brown in the early years of his premiership.
Outside of Whitehall, Scholar had a stint as UK executive director of the International Monetary Fund.
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Unveiling the appointment on Friday, chancellor George Osborne said Scholar was "an outstanding civil servant, with experience of advising on some of the biggest challenges facing the country in recent years".
He added: "It is a tribute to the British civil service that the field of candidates was so strong. Having worked closely with Tom, I know he will be a great leader of the Treasury and a worthy successor to Nick Macpherson.
"I look forward to working with him to deliver the government’s long-term economic plan, in the face of an increasingly turbulent global economy."
The open competition for a successor to Sir Nick Macpherson, who is Whitehall's current longest-serving perm sec, was triggered when Macpherson announced in January that he was leaving the civil service.
Scholar went head-to-head for the post with the finance ministry's current second perm sec John Kingman.
Commenting on his new role, Scholar said he was "thrilled to return to the Treasury".
"It is a strong department with exceptionally talented and committed staff, and I look forward to working with them all to support the chancellor and his team in taking forward the government’s agenda."
Cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood said that while Macpherson – who served under three chancellors – would be "a hard act to follow", he believed Scholar would "do a brilliant job".
"He is a superb adviser, with wide experience across the whole range of the Treasury’s domestic and international business; and a great person to work with, who embodies the enduring values of the civil service in all that he does."
According to the government, the hunt for Scholar’s replacement as Cameron's Europe adviser and head of the and Global Issues Secretariat "will start soon".