The chairman of the mainland's fifth-largest lender by assets will move to head China Development Bank (CDB), a policy bank and the major lender behind China's push for companies to expand overseas.
In the latest reshuffle in the financial sector after November's national leadership transition, Hu Huaibang, chairman of Shanghai-based Bank of Communications (Bocom), was appointed to replace Chen Yuan as CDB's chairman, people informed about the change said.
CDB was not available for comment yesterday. A source close to the bank said some senior executives there had been informed of Chen's upcoming replacement by Hu.
Some sources had speculated that Chen, 68, would stay on, in the same way Zhou Xiaochuan was retained as central bank governor. But the Communist Party's Organisation Department decided he should retire, the sources said.
Chen was appointed a deputy chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference last month. Senior positions in the body are usually taken by retired cadres and officials.
Hu, 58, is a rare finance veteran with experience at various entities. He was dean of what was the Chinese Academy of Finance between 1999 and 2000, before taking positions at the People's Bank of China, the China Banking Regulatory Commission and sovereign wealth fund manager China Investment Corporation (CIC). He has been party secretary and chairman of Bocom since September 2008.
"Hu is widely regarded in the financial circle as a strong advocate of market reforms," an analyst with a leading Beijing-based securities firm said. "Many of his comments are sharp and right to the point."
In an interview with People's Daily in January, Hu said the country's leaders should send a clear signal that they would push ahead with market reforms and order state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to retreat from most industries.
That was in response to widespread criticism of the gains SOEs have made at the expense of private companies since the global financial crisis of 2008-09, because of their favoured access to funding and preferential policies.
With Hu in the lead, CDB was expected to support a wider range of firms looking to expand overseas, the analyst said.
The 19-year-old CDB, wholly owned by the government, initially served as one of the country's three policy lenders. Their main mandates were to support state-backed projects, such as airports, railways and bridges. Since the financial crisis, CDB has been a frequent backer of overseas acquisitions of energy and resources by mainland companies, mainly SOEs.
In this year's financial reshuffle, Bank of China chairman Xiao Gang moved to head the China Securities Regulatory Commission and CIC chairman Lou Jiwei became minister of finance.
Xiao is expected to be replaced by Tian Guoli, chairman of China Citic Bank, the Wall Street Journal reported this week.
Horse-trading for the CIC chairmanship was still under way, bankers said.