China Petrochemical Corp. Chairman Fu Chengyu, who has run Asia’s biggest refiner since 2011, is planning to retire, according to people familiar with the matter.
State-owned Sinopec Group held an internal meeting on Thursday where Fu’s planned retirement was announced, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the move hasn’t been made public. Fu, 63, will be replaced by Wang Yupu, deputy head of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, they said.
The move came a day after the group’s Hong Kong-listed unit, China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., announced a surprise first-quarter profit of 2.17 billion yuan ($350 million) despite a plunge in crude prices. Caixin reported earlier on Thursday that Fu planned to retire, citing people it didn’t identify.
Two calls to a Sinopec spokeswoman weren’t answered outside regular business hours. The move follows the resignation of former Vice Chairman Wang Tianpu after the ruling Communist Party’s anti-graft agency began investigating him as part of its widening crackdown on corruption.
Fu came to Sinopec in 2011 from his previous job as chairman of Cnooc Ltd., China’s biggest offshore oil producer.
Fu, born in June 1951, started his career at Northeast China’s Daqing and Liaohe oilfields in the mid-1970s and joined China National Offshore Oil Corp. in 1982.
He rose through ranks at the explorer and was named chairman and chief executive officer of Hong Kong-listed listed unit Cnooc Ltd. in October 2003, according to his resume posted on the People’s Daily website.
Cnooc in 2005, while under Fu’s stewardship, failed to complete a proposed $18.5 billion purchase of the U.S.’s Unocal Corp. The deal was at the time the biggest attempted overseas purchase by a Chinese company.
At Sinopec, Fu helped turn the Fuling project in southwest China into the nation’s first and biggest commercial shale-gas production base. The company last year raised $17.5 billion by selling a 30 percent stake of its retail-fuel unit to 25 outside investors.
Fu received an official administrative demerit in January 2014 because of a pipeline explosion that killed 62 people in China’s eastern city of Qingdao in November 2013.
Fu is a geology graduate of China’s Northeast Petroleum University and has a masters degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Southern California, according to his biography at USC’s alumni page. Fu is a trustee at the private university in Los Angeles.
— With assistance by Steven Yang, and Guo Aibing