China names new chief for world's largest bank

SHANGHAI • China has named a new chief for the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the world's largest lender by assets, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Mr Chen Siqing, chairman of the Bank of China, was appointed party secretary of Beijing-based ICBC at an internal meeting yesterday, the people said, asking not to be identified as the matter is private. He is replacing Mr Yi Huiman, who became chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, the country's top securities regulator, in January.

Mr Chen is expected to also be named ICBC's chairman, a position that has traditionally been held by the same person who has served as party secretary, according to the people. The bank had US$4.1 trillion (S$5.6 trillion) of total assets at the end of last year.

The reshuffle adds to a string of management changes at China's top financial institutions and regulators. Mr Peng Chun, chairman of the Bank of Communications, was appointed head of China's US$941 billion sovereign wealth fund earlier this month, while Mr Liu Guiping, vice-mayor of the south-western city of Chongqing, was named president of China Construction Bank last month. China has yet to fill the chairmen positions at Bank of China and Bank of Communications, the nation's fourth-and fifth-largest lenders.

The press office of ICBC was not immediately available for comment.

ICBC reported a record profit of 297.7 billion yuan (S$60.2 billion) last year after policymakers renewed their push to spur credit amid a deepening economic slowdown. At rival Bank of China, which generated more revenue from overseas operations than any of its domestic peers, earnings grew at the fastest pace since 2014 to 180.1 billion yuan.

ICBC currently operates 426 outlets in overseas markets with US$384 billion of assets, or close to 10 per cent of the group's total.

Running China's top banks does not come with a lavish pay package. Mr Yi, former chairman of ICBC, earned about US$100,250 last year, a fraction of the salaries taken home by JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and Goldman Sachs Group's former CEO Lloyd Blankfein.

China capped compensation for most senior executives at its biggest banks and other state-owned enterprises in 2015 as part of efforts to combat inequality.

Mr Chen, born in 1960, joined Bank of China in 1990 and became its chairman in 2017.