Citi has promoted its chief economist for Greater China, Minggao Shen, a veteran China observer, to serve as head of China research, as the bank's investment research and analysis team continues to expand and strengthen coverage of the world's fastest growing economy.
He succeeds Lan Xue who has been appointed as a senior adviser to Citi and will continue to be involved in client events.
"The macro and policy developments in China are increasingly critical to the investment decision making process," said Brent Robinson, pan-Asia head of research at Citi. "It's important to have a good understanding of what's going on in the Chinese government behind the scenes. As China matures and becomes a global force, that becomes even more important," he said.
Shen will continue to be based in Hong Kong and will report to Robinson and Johanna Chua, Asia-Pacific head of economics.
In his new role, he will lead the China research team, which covers both fundamental and macroeconomic issues. There are more than 30 people covering China's 19 different sectors at Citi, although some of these 30 people cover other countries too.
"The rationale for the promotion is the cross-over between his macroeconomic research experience and his ability to analyse the economic policies of the government. To relate that to the equity side is quite important," Robinson said.
Shen re-joined Citi in August 2009 after a short stint as chief economist with Beijing-based Caijing magazine. He was previously Citi's senior economist for China from 2005 to 2008. Shen has also worked in the government's policy research arm and in academia for more than 11 years.
Shen is a well-known commentator on the mainland through his blog on sina.com, one of the most viewed web sites in China, where he explains current economic issues on a wide range of economic topics such as inflation and exchange rates, and answers questions that are raised by his readers nationwide.
Shen holds an MA in international development policy and a PhD in economics from Stanford University.
Citi investment research and analysis will continue to look for opportunities to add personnel and coverage in Greater China. "We are likely to add more resources to macroeconomic strategy, consumer, financials, healthcare, infrastructure, energy, and green energy in the near future," the bank said.
Just over two weeks ago, HSBC made a similar move by appointing its chief economist for Greater China, Qu Hongbin, who was a senior manager at state-run banks in China prior to joining HSBC, to oversee Asian economic research.
Qu will be responsible for developing HSBC's Asia-Pacific economic products and ensuring broad and seamless delivery of research across the HSBC platform. He continues to report to Stephen King, group chief economist, and Dilip Shahani, head of global research for Asia-Pacific.
The promotion of Qu "responds to the growing demand of investors seeking guidance on the rapidly changing and expanding role of Asia in the global economy", Shahani said in a statement.
Qu has 17 years of experience in the financial services industry, including direct experience with Bank of China and other Chinese institutions.