Lebanon has nominated investment banker Ziad Hayek to be president of the World Bank, following Jim Yong Kim’s surprise resignation in January and US President Donald Trump’s subsequent nomination for a successor this month.
Lebanon’s nomination is the only challenge so far to Mr Trump’s proposal that Treasury official David Malpass replace Jim Yong Kim as head of the development bank.
Mr Hayek, who is secretary-general of the Higher Council for Privatisation and Public-Private-Partnerships in Lebanon, announced his nomination by the nation’s finance minister in a tweet on Monday night.
“Proud to have been nominated by Lebanon for the position of President of the World Bank Group!” he wrote. He shared a copy of the nomination letter to the bank’s executive board – which states that, “Mr Hayek fulfils the qualification requirements set by the World Bank and has demonstrated, throughout his career – spent almost entirely working in emerging markets, and in both the public and private sectors – a passion for the development, both social and economic, of countries throughout the world.”
Under an informal transatlantic custom, the president of the World Bank has always been an American, while the managing director of the International Monetary Fund has always been European, according to Bloomberg. But some experts are calling for a non-American to be chosen in recognition of the growing global importance of emerging markets.
The final decision will be made by the World Bank’s executive board, which represents its 189 member nations.
As secretary-general of Lebanon’s high council for privatisation, Mr Hayek has been working to reform the country’s power and telecommunication industries. He was previously chief executive of investment bank Lonbridge Associates, as well as a consultant to the US Department of State and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Proud to have been nominated by Lebanon for the position of President of the World Bank Group! pic.twitter.com/HuKkCXdNaM
— Ziad Alexandre Hayek (@ZiadHayek) February 19, 2019
“We believe that Mr. Hayek fulfills the qualification requirements set by the World Bank and has demonstrated, throughout his career — spent almost entirely working in emerging markets, and in both the public and private sectors — a passion for the development, both social and economic, of countries and societies and individuals throughout the world,” Ali Hassan Khalil, Lebanon’s finance minister, wrote to Merza Hasan, dean of the bank’s board of directors.
Lebanon last month instated a new government following a nine-month political impasse, and is expected to ramp up the implementation of crucial consolidation measures to reverse years of economic decline. The economy has been hit by the war in neighbouring Syria, with annual growth rates falling to between 1 and 2 per cent, compared to 8-10 per cent in the pre-war years.
It is due to work on implementing an $11bn aid package pledged by international donors at the Cedre conference in Paris last April, intended to boost high-growth industry sectors.
Meanwhile, President Trump nominated Mr Malpass, the Treasury’s undersecretary for international affairs, to become World Bank president earlier this month.
Mr Malpass is a vocal sceptic of global organisations such as the World Bank, saying they “have grown larger and more intrusive” and “the challenge of refocusing them has become urgent and more difficult”, according to the US political media company Politico.
Last year, Mr Malpass helped create a new package of World Bank lending reforms that seek to reduce middle-income countries’ dependence on bank loans and transition them to private sector lending, in order to direct resources to poor countries instead. The reforms also seek to limit World Bank salary increases.
Conversant in 11 languages
Mr. Hayek, who is is conversant in eleven languages is also Vice Chair of the United Nations Working Party on PPP (Geneva); Executive Director of the U.N.-affiliated International Center of Excellence in PPP for Ports (Beirut); Member of the Board of Trustees of USEK University (Kaslik); Member of the Investment Committee of YMCA World Alliance (Geneva); Member of the Board of Directors of CAT International (Jersey); Chairman of The Alephbet Foundation (Byblos); and Member of the Board of various NGOs on behalf of the Carlos Slim Foundation.
Previously, Mr. Hayek was Member of the Board of Directors of BIT Bank (Beirut), CEO of Lonbridge Associates (London), Senior Managing Director of Bear Stearns (New York), Managing Director of Indosuez Capital Latin America / President of Indosuez Mexico (Paris/Mexico), VP of Salomon Brothers (New York), and VP of Citibank (New York), where he headed the bank’s International Securitization Department. He was also Senior Consultant to the Reagan Administration’s Enterprise Program and member of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations.
Mr. Hayek has an MA in International Management from the University of Texas at Dallas and has studied business administration at the University of Houston and at ITESM in Monterrey, Mexico.