President Donald Trump interviewed Heidi Cruz for the job of World Bank president although he’s not offering the post to the Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive and wife of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, people familiar with the matter said.
Treasury Undersecretary David Malpass remains the clear frontrunner for the job, but Trump has continued to consider others, including Cruz and prominent investor Mohamed El-Erian, the people said. A decision could come as soon as this week, one of the people said.
Cruz, a Goldman Sachs managing director, was head of the Houston office before she took unpaid leave to help her husband’s ultimately unsuccessful campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
But Cruz and Trump have a complicated past: She was thrust briefly into the spotlight during the campaign when Trump tweeted an unflattering image of her and disparaged her appearance.
A Harvard Business School graduate, she joined Goldman in 2005 and was promoted to managing director, the company’s second-highest rank, in 2012. During the George W. Bush administration, she worked for the National Security Council and ran the Latin American group at the Treasury Department.
Ted Cruz drew boos at the Republican National Convention in July 2016, when he stopped short of endorsing Trump. Security officers escorted Heidi Cruz out of the arena after the speech as at least one Trump supporter shouted “Goldman Sachs” at her, CNN reported at the time.
Cruz later reversed his position and endorsed Trump. Heidi Cruz returned to Goldman Sachs after the campaign.
Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for Ted Cruz, said: “It was an honor for Heidi to be considered by the administration as a finalist for president of the World Bank.”
El-Erian, 60, who also met with White House officials about the job, is a respected voice on the global economy and international financial markets. He is chief economic adviser at Allianz, and previously served as chief executive and co-chief investment officer at PIMCO. He was an economist at the International Monetary Fund and writes columns for Bloomberg Opinion.
Other candidates for the World Bank post include Ray Washburne, head of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; Mark Green, head of the US Agency for International Development; Robert Kimmitt, a former senior US Treasury official, and Pepsico Inc. Chairman Indra Nooyi, the people familiar with the matter said.
The World Bank’s executive board oversees the selection of a new president and has invited member nations to put forward nominees between Feb. 7 and March 14. There appears to be little appetite outside the US to challenge Trump’s choice for president of the bank -- traditionally led by an American -- as long as he selects someone credible, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Jim Yong Kim announced this month he’s leaving as president of the World Bank Group more than three years early to become vice chairman at investment firm Global Infrastructure Partners. The bank’s second in command, Kristalina Georgieva, will take over on an interim basis on Feb. 1.
Kim’s departure has reignited debate about the mission of the bank and America’s role as its biggest shareholder. Under an informal trans-Atlantic pact, an American has always run the World Bank while the managing director of its sister institution, the IMF, has always been European.
But the rising clout of countries such as China and India is driving support for a non-American candidate. “The changing global economic landscape makes the convention outdated. There are many excellent potential candidates across the globe, just as there probably are in the US,” former US IMF executive director and Treasury official Mark Sobel said in a recent article.
The bank’s executive board will publish a short list of three candidates and aims to pick a new president by mid-April. The ideal candidate would have experience managing large organizations, a vision for the World Bank’s development mission and a commitment to international cooperation, the board has said.