Chinalco president stepping down to join State Council

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 February, 2009, 12:00am

Aluminum Corp of China (Chinalco) president Xiao Yaqing, who oversaw the country's largest overseas acquisition, will step down and be promoted to the State Council, sources said.

Xiong Weiping, a former Chinalco executive and a vice-chairman and general manager of China Travel International Investment Hong Kong, will replace Mr Xiao.

The appointment of Mr Xiong, 52, to the board of Chinalco was announced last week.

Mr Xiao, 49, will also step down as chairman of the Beijing-based integrated metal firm's listed flagship Aluminum Corp of China (Chalco).

'I would not deny the fact,' said Lu Youqing, Chinalco's vice-president, after being asked to comment on media reports about Mr Xiong taking over Mr Xiao's position. But he stressed the company had not announced it, even internally.

He did not give a reason for the change or a date for the move.

Mr Xiao led Chinalco in its US$14 billion deal to buy a 9 per cent stake in Rio Tinto Group last year, becoming the largest shareholder in the world's third-biggest mining company. His position on the State Council has not yet been disclosed.

'Like his predecessor, Mr Xiao will be promoted as a government official, but this time he'll go to the central government while his predecessor was appointed as a local government official,' the sources said, adding that the appointment may be announced within days.

Guo Shengkun, Mr Xiao's predecessor, was promoted to deputy party head and vice-chairman of southwest Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in 2004. This was after he led the creation of Chinalco and the dual listing of Chalco. In November 2007, Mr Guo was promoted to be Guangxi's party head.

Mr Xiao, who wanted to build Chinalco into 'a first-class global enterprise and a brand that stands for 100 years', has been the state company's top leader since 2004.

His successor, Mr Xiong - who left Chinalco in 2006 - returns at a time when Chinalco is considering increasing its investment in Rio even though last year's investment so far has lost about two-thirds of its value.

A British newspaper earlier said Chinalco was in talks to buy assets from Rio and increase its stake in the company to 11 per cent in a deal that might be worth up to US$15 billion.

Zhang Fang, an analyst at China Securities, said the management reshuffle would not change Chinalco's or Chalco's development strategy.

'For Chinalco, overseas resources expansion will continue and Xiao's successor is likely to adhere to this strategy,' she said.