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China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank Appoint New Heads

Agricultural Bank of China Chairman Jiang Chaoliang
Jiang Chaoliang, newly announced chairman of Agricultural Bank of China Ltd., seen here as chairman of the Bank of Communications Ltd. in Hong Kong on Aug. 22, 2006. Photographer: Tony Yu/Bloomberg

China Construction Bank Corp., the world’s second-largest lender by market value, and Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. appointed new chiefs, replacing executives who moved to head the nation’s financial regulators last year.

Construction Bank named Wang Hongzhang, while Beijing-based Agricultural Bank elected Jiang Chaoliang after winning shareholders’ approval, according to separate statements to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange yesterday. The appointments are effective immediately, the statements showed.

China in October began the biggest reshuffle of financial officials in a decade, triggered by the retirement of its top banking and insurance regulators. Shang Fulin was named to helm the China Banking Regulatory Commission and oversee lenders that include four of the world’s 10 largest by market value, preceding the leadership change at China’s Communist Party toward the end of 2012.

“The government’s aim this year is to stabilize growth, which means no drastic changes to economic policies,” said Luo Yi, a Shenzhen-based analyst at China Merchants Securities Co. “The management changes at the banks won’t lead to any major shift in their strategy because it’s the central government that sets the tone for the industry’s development.”

China’s economy grew 8.9 percent in the last three months of 2011, the slowest pace since the second quarter of 2001, the statistics bureau said today. The nation’s banks may advance as much as 8.5 trillion yuan ($1.35 trillion) of new loans this year, a 14 percent increase from a year earlier, Luo estimated.

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Wang, 57, previously held positions at Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. and was the chief disciplinary officer at the central bank from 2003, according to Construction Bank. He replaces Guo Shuqing, who was appointed chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission in October.

Construction Bank, based in Beijing, also hired Zhu Hongbo, formerly vice president at smaller rival Agricultural Bank, as its vice president, according to yesterday’s statement.

Agricultural Bank’s Jiang, 54, was previously a director of the general planning department and a general manager of the international business department at the Chinese lender, and has held positions at the central bank, the company’s statement showed. He was the president of China Development Bank Corp. in 2008 and chairman of Shanghai-based Bank of Communications Co. prior to that. Jiang replaces Xiang Junbo, who is now chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission.

China’s five biggest banks should pace growth and “gradually” ease risks in 2012, the banking regulator said on Jan. 13.

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