President Joe Biden on Thursday announced that the US is nominating Ajay Banga to lead the World Bank, saying the Indian-American business leader is uniquely equipped to lead the global institution at "this critical moment in history."
If confirmed by the World Bank Board of Directors, Banga would be the first-ever Indian-American and Sikh-American to head either of the two top international financial institutions: International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Banga, 63, currently serves as Vice Chairman at General Atlantic. Previously, he was President and CEO of Mastercard, leading the company through a strategic, technological and cultural transformation. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2016.
"Ajay is uniquely equipped to lead the World Bank at this critical moment in history," President Biden said in a statement.
"He has spent more than three decades building and managing successful, global companies that create jobs and bring investment to developing economies, and guiding organisations through periods of fundamental change," Biden said.
Banga has a proven track record managing people and systems, and partnering with global leaders around the world to deliver results, he said.
He also has critical experience mobilising public-private resources "to tackle the most urgent challenges of our time, including climate change," the US President said.
Raised in India, Banga has a unique perspective on the opportunities and challenges facing developing countries and how the World Bank can deliver on its ambitious agenda to reduce poverty and expand prosperity, he added.
The White House said Banga is a business leader with extensive experience leading successful organisations in developing countries and forging public-private partnerships to address financial inclusion and climate change.
Vice President Kamala Harris said Banga will be a transformative World bank President as the institution works to deliver on its core development goals and address pressing global challenges, including climate change.
Banga has worked closely with Vice President Harris as the Co-Chair of the Partnership for Central America.
"Since I was elected Vice President, Ajay and I have worked closely together on a new model of public-private partnership designed to address the root causes of migration in Northern Central America," Harris said in a statement after Biden's announcement to nominate Banga for the top World Bank position.
Through that partnership, nearly 50 businesses and organisations have mobilised to generate more than USD 4.2 billion in commitments that will create opportunity and hope for people in the region, she said.
"Ajay has brought great insight, energy, and persistence to the challenges of promoting economic development and tackling the root causes of migration as the institution works to deliver on its core development goals and address pressing global challenges, including climate change," Harris said.
In a separate statement, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen applauded Biden for nominating Banga for this position.
"I applaud President Biden's decision to nominate Ajay Banga to lead the World Bank. He has the right leadership and management skills, experience living and working in emerging markets, and financial expertise to lead the World Bank at a critical moment in its history, deliver on its core development goals, and evolve the Bank to meet global challenges like climate change," Yellen said.
"As a renowned executive, Banga has led a global organisation with nearly 20,000 employees, advocated for diversity and inclusion, and delivered results. His efforts have helped bring 500 million unbanked people into the digital economy, deploy private capital into climate solutions, and expand economic opportunity through the Partnership for Central America," she said.
This experience will help him achieve the World Bank's objectives of eliminating extreme poverty and expanding shared prosperity while pursuing the changes needed to effectively evolve the institution to be fit for purpose for the world being faced today.
"Banga understands that those core objectives are deeply intertwined with challenges like meeting ambitious goals for climate adaptation and emissions reduction, preparing for and preventing future pandemics, and mitigating the root causes and consequences of conflict and fragility," she said.
While the World Bank will continue to play a key role in improving the lives of people around the globe, it can't do it alone, she noted.
Banga's track record of forging partnerships between the public sector, private sector, and non-profits uniquely equips him to help mobilise the private capital and press for the reforms needed to meet our shared ambitions, Yellen said.
"In doing so, the World Bank can serve as a force multiplier for good by setting the right agenda and catalyzing action from across the spectrum including governments, the private sector, other multilateral development banks, civil society and philanthropies," Yellen said.
According to the White House, over the course of his career, Banga has become a global leader in technology, data, financial services and innovating for inclusion.
He is honorary chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce, serving as chairman from 2020-2022. He is also chairman of Exor and independent director at Temasek. He became an advisor to General Atlantic's climate-focused fund, BeyondNetZero, at its inception in 2021.
He previously served on the Boards of the American Red Cross, Kraft Foods and Dow Inc. He is a member of the Trilateral Commission, a founding trustee of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum, a former member of the National Committee on US-China Relations, and Chairman Emeritus of the American India Foundation.
Banga is a co-founder of The Cyber Readiness Institute, Vice Chair of the Economic Club of New York and served as a member of President Barack Obama's Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity. He is a past member of the US President's Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.
He was awarded the Foreign Policy Association Medal in 2012, the Ellis Island Medal of Honour and the Business Council for International Understanding's Global Leadership Award in 2019, and the Distinguished Friends of Singapore Public Service Star in 2021.