China Merchants Bank, the country's sixth-largest lender by assets, is getting a new chief.
The bank said yesterday that the China Banking Regulatory Commission had appointed Tian Huiyu to replace Ma Weihua as party secretary of the Shenzhen-based lender.
Tian, who heads the retail business at the state-controlled China Construction Bank (CCB) and CCB's Beijing branch, is one of China's few successful retail bankers, and his promotion marks the rise of yet another official from CCB.
He graduated from the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics in 1987 before acquiring a Master of Public Administration degree from Columbia University in the United States in 2002. He was a trusted lieutenant to Wang Qishan, one of the seven members of the Politburo standing committee, who was CCB's president between 1996 and 1997.
From 1998 to 2003, Tian was vice-president of the trust investment arm of China Cinda Asset Management, the company set up to take over bad loans from CCB. Following that, he took up top positions in CCB's local branches including in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Beijing.
His career path is similar to that of Tian Guoli, former vice-chairman of Citic Group who was appointed party secretary to Bank of China last month. Both have been with CCB and Cinda, and have worked with Wang.
Shares in China Merchants Bank edged up 0.08 per cent in Shanghai yesterday to 12.50 yuan and 0.6 per cent to HK$16.88 in Hong Kong.
One anonymous analyst at a Beijing-based brokerage said: "The appointment will bring uncertainties to the ongoing transformation of Merchants Bank as it may lead to changes in the management style or trigger more personnel reshuffles at lower levels."
A former colleague from CCB said Tian was a "tough man". He was behind the move to cut the number of outlets in Beijing in the past few years, despite strong internal opposition. But it is widely held that it will be a challenge for him to run Merchants Bank, where Ma Weihua, 64, has been the president for 14 years.