Bank of China (Hong Kong), the local arm of China’s fourth-largest bank, has appointed veteran group insider Gao Yingxin as its new chief executive and vice-chairman, as it moves ahead with a plan to take over the parent company’s southeast Asian operations. Gao replaced Yue Yi, another long time employee of the group who has stepped down due to his age, effective from January 1, the bank said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange on Tuesday. Gao joined Bank of China in Beijing in 1986 and has spent almost all of his career at the group, except for a brief spell in the 1990s in the finance department of Canadian telecommunications firm Northern Telecom. He also served as Bank of China (Hong Kong)’s deputy chief executive for corporate banking for 10 years from 2005. During Yue’s tenure as chief executive, the Bank of China group embarked on a restructuring, under which ownership of Bank of China’s operations in southeast Asia will pass to Bank of China (Hong Kong). Bank of China Hong Kong chief sees regional expansion as antidote to local slowdown On 29 December, the group said that it had successfully transferred ownership of Bank of China’s Manila and Ho Chi Minh City branches to Bank of China (Hong Kong). The Hong Kong unit had already acquired the group’s activities in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia. This is not the first time Gao has replaced Yue in a senior role. Gao took over Yue’s positions as chairman of Bank of China (Luxembourg) and Bank of China (UK) in 2015, the year Yue became chief executive of the Hong Kong arm. Yue, who is aged 60 according to the bank’s website, has been appointed chairman of Hong Kong Interbank Clearing Limited, the company that provides clearing and settlement services to banks in the city, and has also joined the risk management committee of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, the operator of the stock exchange.