US president George Bush has reportedly chosen a former American trade representative and deputy secretary of state to become the next head of the World Bank.
Robert Zoellick, now an executive at investment bank Goldman Sachs, has been selected to replace the bank's outgoing president Paul Wolfowitz, a senior US official has told reporters.
It is expected that Mr Zoellick, who until last year served as the chief aide to US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, will be officially nominated for the post by Mr Bush today.
The US administration has traditionally selected the head of the World Bank, which was founded 60 years ago and is an international vehicle to help poorer countries.
Current president Mr Wolfowitz is standing down from the post after being forced to resign from his job over an ethics scandal.
He told the BBC earlier this week that mounting internal criticism over the way he secured a lucrative job for his long-term partner and bank employee Shaha Riza had prevented him from being able to carry out his duties.
Mr Bush's apparent selection of Mr Zoellick, who helped launch the Doha round of world trade talks in his previous role as America's chief trade ambassador, has been welcomed by former US secretary of state James Baker.
"He's an outstanding choice. What he brings to the bank is an ability to get things done, an ability to work with people and an excellent reputation among foreign policy types across the world," he told the Reuters news agency.
But others have warned that Mr Zoellick will be judged on his achievements while at the World Bank.
"The test of Zoellick is whether he manages to turn around the bank, which has been in huge disarray,'' Elizabeth Stuart, a senior policy adviser for Oxfam International, told the Associated Press.
World Bank directors are expected to approve the anticipated nomination of Mr Zoellick, with a new president set to take over control of the organisation on June 30th.
In a statement yesterday the bank's board stressed it was essential for the next president to have "a proven track record of leadership" and "a firm commitment to development", among other qualities.