Ocampo to withdraw from World Bank race:sources

WASHINGTON/BRASILIA Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:44pm EDT

The World Bank presidential nominee Jose Antonio Ocampo of Colombia is seen during a meeting with Brazil's Finance Minsiter Guido Mantega at the Ministry of Finance in Brasilia April 12, 2012. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

The World Bank presidential nominee Jose Antonio Ocampo of Colombia is seen during a meeting with Brazil's Finance Minsiter Guido Mantega at the Ministry of Finance in Brasilia April 12, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino

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WASHINGTON/BRASILIA (Reuters) - Former Colombian finance minister Jose Antonio Ocampo is set to withdraw his nomination for the World Bank presidency on Friday in an agreement among emerging and developing countries to coalesce around one nominee, three sources said.

Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala would remain as the sole candidate from developing nations in a race against U.S. nominee Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-American health expert who is seen as the favorite to win the race.

A straw poll among World Bank directors representing the Group of 11, which includes emerging countries and Australia, backed Okonjo-Iweala, the sources said.

Emerging market nations are seeking to challenge U.S. leadership at the bank to increase their influence in global economic institutions long controlled by rich nations.

While Kim is still the favorite to win the World Bank presidency because of his backing from the United States and European countries, a rigorous challenge from emerging market countries could put them in a stronger position to extract concessions favorable to their interests and also increase their odds of winning senior jobs in the future.

Earlier, Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega said that the BRICS group of emerging market countries is likely to make a joint decision on who to support for the World Bank top post as soon as Friday.

Mantega told reporters the five countries were still discussing which candidate they would support. The BRICS group also includes Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Ocampo, who met with Mantega on Thursday, said developing nations wanted a single candidate to challenge Kim.

(Writing by Alonso Soto and Lesley Wroughton; Editing by James Dalgleish and M.D. Golan)

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