Chairman Who Guided China Power Giant's Global Ambitions Retires

liu zhenya

Liu Zhenya.

Photographer: F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg
  • Liu served as general manager from 2004; chairman since 2013
  • Promoted ambitious $50 trillion global-energy network

Liu Zhenya, chairman of State Grid Corp. of China, will step down as head of the world’s biggest utility, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

Liu, 63, has passed the official retirement age and the company’s senior officials held a special meeting Friday in Beijing to discuss his replacement, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. General Manager Shu Yinbiao, the company’s No. 2, was mentioned as a possible successor, the people said. A Beijing-based State Grid spokesman declined to comment.

Liu, as head of the power provider with 1.9 million employees that already serves one in seven people on the planet, championed the company’s ambitions for a $50 trillion global-energy network to transmit electricity from country to country and continent to continent.

The company reaped $13.3 billion in profit last year on more than $300 billion in sales, putting its revenue ahead of companies including Toyota Motor Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp. Building and maintaining its domestic network has made it the world’s biggest copper consumer and its overseas assets stretch from Brazil to Italy to Australia. Its expansion ambitions will be limited only by the opportunities available to it, not by cash, Liu said in an interview in March.

Shandong Roots

Born August 1952, Liu began his career as an electrical engineer in his native Shandong province in 1977 and became head of Shandong Power Group in 1997, according to his resume posted at people.com.cn. He was picked to lead the creation of State Grid in 2000 amid a broader restructuring of the power industry and was appointed to its highest post in 2004.

Shu, born in July 1958, joined State Power Group as an engineer in 1985 and and became chief engineer in 1998, according to his resume on sina.com. He was appointed a deputy general manager of State Grid in 2004 and promoted to general manager in 2013. Shu holds a doctorate in engineering from China’s Wuhan University.

— With assistance by Keith Zhai, Guo Aibing, and Steven Yang

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