Speculation of a leadership reshuffle at the mainland's central bank has intensified in the past few days as Beijing grapples with a faltering economy and an overvalued currency, according to sources. Reports have suggested that Dai Xianglong, governor of the People's Bank of China (PBOC), is set to take over the powerful position of party secretary of Shanghai. Two politically well-connected mainland bankers are seen as leading candidates to replace Mr Dai if he steps down. They are Wang Xuebing, president of the Bank of China (BOC), and Zhou Xiaochuan, president of the China Construction Bank (CCB). A central bank spokesman was unable to confirm that Mr Dai would move on. 'As far as I know, Mr Dai is still the governor of the central bank,' he said. Officials from CCB and BOC were not available for comment yesterday. It is not the first time that rumours about a leadership reshuffle at the central bank have emerged. Talk of Mr Dai's departure first surfaced three years ago when it was said he would be made Shanghai mayor to help shape the city's plans to regain its status as an economic and financial centre. This time, it is said he will become the more powerful party secretary, a job held by Huang Ju, who reportedly would be transferred to Beijing. Banking sources in Beijing and Shanghai said yesterday they had heard reports of Mr Dai's departure. 'There is probably some basis in the rumour because we hear he [Mr Dai] is keen to work in Shanghai but Premier Zhu Rongji is not ready to let him go,' a source in Shanghai said. Analysts said finding a replacement for Mr Dai at the central bank would be no easy task as whoever became governor would play an important role in helping the government push through financial reforms and fight deflation. Overseas-trained PBOC vice-governor Liu Mingkang was at one stage touted as a possible successor, but this has been ruled out after he was made head of the China Everbright group last week. Mr Liu replaced Zhu Xiaohua, who has fallen out of favour for undisclosed reasons. CCB chief Mr Zhou has been cited as a possible candidate, but sources said he had just moved over to the CCB, which is launching a pilot scheme to set up asset-management companies to handle the bank's non-performing loans.