US pick to head World Bank, ex-Mastercard CEO Banga, starts 'charm offensive'
By Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden's pick to head the World Bank, ex-Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga, met on Wednesday with executive directors at the bank as he launched a "charm offensive" to win the post, three sources familiar with the matter said.
Biden last week nominated the 63-year-old, Indian-born business executive to run the global development bank and jump-start the 77-year-old institution's overhaul to better address climate change.
Barring any last-minute challenges, Biden's nomination of Banga, now a U.S. citizen, all but assures he will assume a job that oversees billions of dollars of funding to help developing countries.
Adriana Kugler, the Senate-confirmed U.S. executive director at the World Bank, hosted an informal "meet and greet" for Banga, where he and and other executive directors discussed "efficiency, effectiveness, and the impact of the bank's work," one of the source said.
Directors appreciated Banga’s management and leadership experience, and his willingness to engage openly, the source added.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she was pleased so far with positive reviews from Group of 20 finance officials for Banga, who has won praise for his work transforming Mastercard and lifting people in developing countries out of poverty.
As the World Bank's largest shareholder with 16.35% of its voting power, the United States wields strong influence over the bank's policies, and the lender's president works closely with the Treasury Department.
But Biden's swift nomination has drawn criticism from some non-profit groups who had pressed for member countries to choose a president from an emerging market. Others have pushed for the first woman president in the bank's 77-year history.
The World Bank declined to comment on Banga's meetings since the nominating process continues through March 29, and other candidates could still be put forth by other member countries.
So far, no other nominations have been made, said one of the sources.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Diane Craft)