China Investment Corp, the mainland's US$480 billion sovereign wealth fund whose chairmanship had been left vacant for months, finally confirmed last night that a senior cabinet official had been appointed to the post. Ding Xuedong, a former deputy secretary general of the State Council, was officially named CIC's new chairman in a brief statement posted on the fund's website, confirming a report by the South China Morning Post on June 29 about the expected appointment. "In accordance with the decision rendered by the State Council of the People's Republic of China on July 3, 2013, Mr Ding Xuedong has been appointed as chairman of China Investment Corp," CIC said in the one-sentence statement. Ding, 53, was the State Council's youngest ever deputy secretary general and served as a deputy finance minister for about two years between 2008 and 2010 before joining the cabinet office. He succeeds Lou Jiwei, the founding chairman of CIC, who was promoted to finance minister earlier this year in the wake of the Communist Party's once-a-decade leadership transition. Lou had been a deputy finance minister for about nine years when the government assigned him to set up CIC in 2007 in a move aimed at helping Beijing better manage its huge foreign exchange reserves. The chairman's office at CIC had been empty for about five months following Lou's promotion. During the administrative reshuffle following the party leadership change, the mainland's other top finance jobs - heading up the central bank, China Development Bank and the Big Four state-owned lenders - were all filled. CIC was a notable exception. The hiring process for the new CIC chairman remained secretive, drawing much interest from the global financial community and the media. Those rumoured to be in contention for the job included Ning Gaoning, the chairman of the powerful state-owned China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corp; Chongqing mayor Huang Qifan; and Tu Guangshao, a vice-mayor of Shanghai and formerly vice-chairman of the securities watchdog. The cabinet, led by Premier Li Keqiang, took several months to agree on who to appoint. Appointing Ding, a rising star in political circles, CIC chairman is widely considered a "safe choice" by industry watchers because of his mainly previous close working ties with cabinet members and his experience in the finance ministry. However, his lack of investment experience in international capital markets may raise some doubts among his peers in the fund industry.