World Bank President Robert Zoellick Resigns | Hillary Clinton to Replace?

World Bank President Robert Zoellick speaks during a press conference at World Bank's office in Beijing, China, Sept. 5, 2011. (Alexander F. Yuan/AP Photo)

World Bank President Robert Zoellick informed the 187-nation lending organization’s board Wednesday that he will leave office June 30, the end of his five-year term.

This raises a question: who will replace him?

“I’m honored to have led such a world class institution with so many talented and exceptional people,” Zoellick said in a statement announcing his plans.

The board now begins a selection process to find a new leader, a process that is expected to be more open than in the past. Under an informal agreement dating to the bank’s founding nearly 68 years ago, its president has been an American.

“Speculation has been rife in recent months over who might take the job when Zoellick departs,” Reuters reports. “Possible U.S. candidates include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former White House economic adviser Larry Summers.”

“Hillary Clinton wants the job,” a source told Reuters.

If Clinton were to leave State, Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is at the top of the list of those who would replace her.

And although Press Secretary Jay Carney denies that Clinton will get the nod from President Obama, the rumors persist.

It has also been rumored that Zoellick, a President George W. Bush appointee, may be a potential candidate for a senior position if a Republican candidate takes the White House in November.

Zoellick said he will stay focused on being bank president until June 30 and will continue to drive policies and programs at a heightened tempo. For example, later this month the bank said he will unveil a groundbreaking study on the future structure of China’s economic growth model, the Associated Press reports.

Under Zoellick’s leadership, the bank provided more than $247 billion to help developing countries boost growth and overcome poverty.

Zoellick said he was “pleased that when the world needed the bank to step up, our shareholders responded with expanded resources and support for key reforms that made us quicker, more effective and more open.”

He said the bank was now in a strong position and ready for new challenges “so it is a natural time for me to move on and support new leadership.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.