Italy's Andrea Enria, the chairman of the European Bank Authority, has applied to become the next chief of the European Central Bank's banking watchdog, his office said today. 

The ECB is looking for a banking expert to replace the head of the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM), Daniele Nouy, when her term expires at the end of this year and to oversee a sector still weighed down by bad loans and shrinking profit margins. 

The Central Bank's deputy governor Sharon Donnery became the first person last month to put her name forward publicly for the post.

Media reports say another Italian, ECB supervisor Ignazio Angeloni, is also expected to apply, but his candidacy has not yet been confirmed.