World Bank Board Weighs Second Term for President

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, shown in a July photo,  hasn’t formally asked for another five-year term. ENLARGE
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, shown in a July photo, hasn’t formally asked for another five-year term. Photo: Associated Press

WASHINGTON—The World Bank’s executive board has begun considering a second term for its controversial President Jim Yong Kim, amid a sharp backlash from staff complaining about the development institution’s leadership.

The executive board hasn’t officially launched the selection process for the bank’s top spot. Nor has Mr. Kim, an American picked by the White House in 2012, formally asked to keep his job for another five-year term.

But in a special, closed-door meeting on Aug. 1 to discuss the selection process, some board members openly backed Mr. Kim for another five years once his current term expires next June, according to people familiar with the matter.

The board decided to reconvene after its August recess, according to these people, to detail the timeline and rules of the selection process and officially launch the job search.

Mr. Kim received informal backing from several major shareholders, including China, the U.S. and Germany, according to one of the people with knowledge of the discussions, bolstering the likelihood he will win a second term. Other board members expressed dismay that they hadn’t been consulted, the person said.

Although Mr. Kim hasn’t officially submitted his request, he has indicated in recent months to staff that he would be interested in sticking around for a second term to help complete what has become a contentious restructuring of the development institution.

Mr. Kim is already facing several hurdles. Civil-society groups have long called for an end of the unwritten agreement among the bank’s founding Western members that the U.S. appoints the top spot at the development bank while Europe gets to name the International Monetary Fund’s managing director.

Many World Bank staffers, agitated by Mr. Kim’s overhaul, are hoping for a new president.

“Our annual Employee Engagement Survey has, for two years running, made it painfully clear that the World Bank Group is experiencing a crisis of leadership,” the World Bank Group Staff Association said in a letter Monday calling for a new, open and transparent selection process. The group represents nearly 9,000 people on the bank’s staff of more than 15,000.

Only one in three staff “understand where the senior management team is leading us,” the group said of its survey. “Even fewer believe that our senior management creates a culture of openness and trust.”

The World Bank said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal that the board would apply “open, merit-based and transparent” principles in the selection process.

“These principles were used in the 2012 selection and will govern the upcoming Presidential selection process,” the statement said.

Write to Ian Talley at [email protected]


WSJ.com: US Business

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