CCB’s internet finance chief moves to Ant

Huang Hao, head of internet finance at China Construction Bank, has left to join Alibaba’s financial affiliate as its vice-president.
Huang Hao, head of internet finance at China Construction Bank, has left the country’s second-largest lender by assets to join Ant Financial as its vice president, Alibaba’s financial affiliate said on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for Ant Financial confirmed that Huang had now joined the company, reporting to president Eric Jing, but declined to specify the business he is in charge of.

A person familiar with the matter at CCB told FinanceAsia that Huang submitted his resignation a few months ago but that it was only approved in December.

“Huang Hao was senior here. His resignation had to be filed with and approved by the Central Organization Department,” the person said, noting his importance to the state-owned lender.

The ruling communist party's powerful Central Organization Department, known as Zhongzubu in Chinese, oversees important appointments at various central and local government organisations as well as state-owned enterprises and financial institutions across the country.

Huang, 42, was a CCB stalwart and had been leading the bank’s internet finance division since 2009.

Under his leadership, CCB had been actively developing online banking and mobile banking platforms and shifting more of its business online, in response to the challenges posed by fast-growing fintech companies.

“We are not building an online bank that is separate from CCB but are using the thinking and methods of the internet to transform the whole of CCB,” Huang told domestic newspaper 21st Century Business Herald in August 2015.

According to him, only 5% of CCB’s transactions were conducted offline as of June last year. Over the same period, the bank had about 164 million mobile clients, its website showed.  

Banker emigration

Huang is the latest senior banker to leave the traditional banking industry to pursue opportunities in the burgeoning fintech sector, which is hungry for experienced financiers with strong connections in the country’s banking and business communities.

For instance, Yang Jun last year joined peer-to-peer lending platform Lufax as its chief risk officer after working more than two decades at mid-sized lender Shanghai Pudong Development Bank.

WeBank, established in 2014 by Tencent, raided Ping An Bank for its secretary to the board of directors, Li Nanqing, and chief risk officer Wang Shijun.

Ant Financial, spun off from Alibaba in 2011, is a big player in China’s fintech industry. It runs Alipay, the PayPal-like online payments service, Yu’e Bao, China’s largest money market fund, and MYbank, one of the country’s first internet banks.

Other talent the company has lured from major Chinese financial institutions include Han Xinyi, former executive director of investment banking division at CICC, Yu Shengfa, former president of Hangzhou Bank, and Hu Tao, former retail banking head of China Merchant Bank.

Last week, amid a tougher fundraising climate, the company moved to tap investors for fresh capital for the second time in six months ahead of its planned initial public offering. It reportedly aims to raise another Rmb10 billion ($1.5 billion) at least.

In its Series A funding in June, Ant Financial raised an undisclosed amount in a private placement, which valued the company at about $45 billion, and successfully attracted eight external investors including China’s National Social Security Fund and China Development Bank Capital.

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