CIC, BOC promote key officials

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 January, 2014, 12:54am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 January, 2014, 12:54am

Two top financial officials on the mainland have stepped down after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 60, sources and local media said yesterday.

China Investment Corp vice-president and general manager Gao Xiqing has retired, with former deputy general manager Li Keping promoted in his place, sources said.

Meanwhile, Bank of China president Li Lihui has also stepped down and is moving to a commission under the National People's Congress. Former BOC vice-president Chen Siqing, 52, succeeded Li, Caixin magazine reported on its website.

Gao, born in 1953, is widely respected for being one of the founders of the mainland's capital markets.

He helped design and launch the stock markets in 1988 after obtaining a law degree in the United States and working on Wall Street for two years.

He served in senior positions at the China Securities Regulatory Commission and the National Council for the Social Security Fund before joining the CIC in 2007.

"He is an outspoken and very capable man, with many good ideas. But many of his ideas can't be turned into realities due to systemic constraints," said an investment bank source.

Li [Keping] is very good at investment. The … fund’s [results were impressive]

"He never got a chance to head an important state organisation, as his overseas experience had a negative impact in evaluations by the [Communist Party's] organisation department."

In the competition for the top job at the CIC last year, Gao failed to win promotion due to an unwritten party rule that overseas returnees should not be placed at the top of state organisations. Sources said that had made him quite upset. Ding Xuedong, a former deputy secretary general of the State Council, was named CIC's chairman in July.

Gao had been mulling retirement since the end of last year, sources said. Some overseas institutions, including JP Morgan, had contacted Gao with a view to recruiting him, they said, but mainland rules barred him from working for a foreign investment institution for a certain period of time after retirement.

Gao might opt to teach at Duke University, his American alma mater, as his child was now studying in the United States, sources said. He currently serves on the university's board of trustees.

Li Keping, Gao's successor, joined the CIC as chief investment officer and deputy general manager in 2011. He served as deputy chairman of the National Council for the Social Security Fund before that.

"Li is very good at financial investment. Under his watch, the performance of the social security fund was very impressive," a banking source said.

Beijing-based CIC, the mainland's US$575 billion sovereign wealth investment fund, posted a return of 10.6 per cent in 2012.

Bank of China is one of the four largest banks on the mainland, with assets totalling 13.26 trillion yuan (HK$16.9 trillion) at the end of June last year.