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FirstFT: World Bank president to step down

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World Bank president David Malpass will step down from his post at the end of June, nearly a year before his term expires.

The bank issued a statement on Wednesday saying Malpass, who was appointed to his position by former US president Donald Trump, had informed the board of his decision to step down after four years “to pursue new challenges”. 

“It has been an enormous honour and privilege to serve as president of the world’s premier development institution alongside so many talented and exceptional people,” Malpass said in a statement.

The US and other big World Bank shareholders have been pressing the institution over the past year to step up efforts on tackling global challenges, including climate change, alongside its traditional mandate of tackling global poverty.

Earlier this month US Treasury secretary Janet Yellen stepped up pressure on the World Bank by urging it to “quickly” enact reforms to free up more money to address climate change, among other global challenges.

1. Xinjiang governor cancels Brussels and London visits The governor of Xinjiang, where about 1mn Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have been under detention, has cancelled his visit to Europe, following an outcry from politicians and activists. British parliamentarians and human rights groups strongly criticised ministers for granting Erkin Tuniyaz an official meeting.

2. US risks defaulting on debt this summer, agency warns The US government risks an unprecedented default as soon as July if the debt ceiling is not raised, the Congressional Budget Office has warned amid a growing war of words between the White House and congressional Republicans over lifting the borrowing limit.

3. Sturgeon quits as Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced her resignation yesterday after a backlash over her strategy for securing independence and controversy over proposed gender laws. A thorn in the side of UK prime ministers for almost a decade, Sturgeon led the pro-independence Scottish National party to repeated electoral success.

4. Elderly in China protest against health insurance reforms Tens of thousands of Chinese pensioners took to the streets yesterday to protest against health insurance reforms that were introduced as cash-strapped city governments sought to control spending in the aftermath of China’s costly zero-Covid policy. Video footage obtained by the Financial Times showed the mostly elderly demonstrators facing off against hundreds of police.

5. China launches corruption probe into football association chief The president of the Chinese Football Association is being investigated by the Communist party’s feared anti-corruption agency for suspected “serious violations of discipline and law”, according to a government statement. The probe is the latest setback for President Xi Jinping’s ambitions of turning the nation into a soccer powerhouse.

  • More on the business of sport: The Iranian-American billionaire Jahm Najafi is preparing a blockbuster $3.75bn takeover bid for Tottenham Hotspur, the Premier League football club, according to two people with direct knowledge of the plans.

Join us in Singapore on March 16 at our inaugural Wealth Management Summit to discuss how best to scale up while navigating geopolitical tensions, regulatory shifts, and investment risks. Register today.

The days ahead

England begin Test series against New Zealand The Black Caps will host England in the first of two matches between the teams this month. Today’s match is set for 1am GMT/2pm local time at the Bay Oval cricket ground in Mount Maunganui.

Japan trade balance figures January data are set to be released this morning.

Earnings Commerzbank, Nestlé, Orange, Paramount, Pernod Ricard, Renault and Standard Chartered will report results today.

Correction: Yesterday’s newsletter incorrectly stated the date of Tui’s latest earnings. The H3 rocket launch in Japan was also delayed until Friday.

What else we’re reading

SoftBank’s future rests on Arm Following a historic selldown in Alibaba, an investment on which Masayoshi Son built his name as one of the world’s greatest technology visionaries, Arm now accounts for a bigger percentage of SoftBank’s net asset value than the Chinese ecommerce group. The question is whether Son is now going on an offensive to make sure that Arm’s initial public offering, most likely in the US, succeeds.

‘Big Bang 2.0’: Reviving the City of London Ministers and financiers hope a series of proposals to loosen EU-derived rules can be a blueprint for the post-Brexit era, and there is political pressure to show that leaving the EU has brought benefits. But can the reforms make London more competitive against rival financial capitals?

Syrians left to fend for themselves after quake The international community responded immediately to the devastating February 6 earthquake by sending hundreds of millions of dollars in supplies and rescue teams to disaster-hit southern Turkey. But in the rebel-held Syrian town of Jinderes, no international aid arrived for nearly a week.

A war for climate talent is hotting up As competition for green business experts grows, financial firms are snapping up staff from environmental non-profit groups at a pace — and price — that industry veterans say is striking. Globally, demand for green talent and skills has been outstripping supply.

A year of war in Ukraine has left Europe’s armouries dry Conversations between western defence ministers are littered with furrowed brows and anxious looks: how long can we sustain this level of support for Ukraine, and with what? Europe’s factories are barely able to make enough shells to supply a week’s worth of Ukraine’s needs.

Thank you to readers who took our poll yesterday. A majority of respondents said they do find meaning in their work. See the breakdown of the results below.

Take a break from the news

Calling strong retired chess players: now is your chance to represent England. Nigel Povah, the team manager, hopes that former talents will be interested in representing in the 50-plus and 65-plus categories. Here’s how to be considered for selection.

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