Securities reformer Guo to lead bank watchdog

Former chairman of China's CSRC returns to financial regulatory work after spell as a provincial administrator.

China's banking regulator will today appoint Guo Shuqing, governor and deputy party secretary of the Shandong province in eastern China, as its new head, FinanceAsia understands.

He replaces Shang Fulin, who has led the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) for more than five years but has now reached the age of 65, the retirement age for Chinese officials.

The appointment of Guo, a veteran financial regulator who was an outspoken head of the country's securities regulator, was first reported by Chinese financial media outlet Caixin on Thursday, citing sources familiar with the matter. The report was swiftly removed.

However a source at CBRC confirmed the news to FinanceAsia on Thursday, adding that Guo would join the office on Friday afternoon and an official announcement would be made soon.

“As of Thursday afternoon, [the CBRC] has made the chairman office ready for Guo’s arrival,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Guo spent most of his career in the financial industry. Before moving to govern Shandong in 2013, he served as chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), chairman of China Construction Bank (CCB), chairman of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange and vice-governor of the People’s Bank of China, among other roles.

Perceived as one of the most outspoken reformists among top China’s financial regulators, Guo had publicly questioned China’s arduous listing approvals process. During his term at the CSRC, Guo initiated measures to rescue China’s domestic stock market, including cutting trading fees and removing underperforming companies from the exchange. He also improved the transparency of the listing process.

He is also credited with CCB’s $8 billion IPO in Hong Kong that marked a staggering transformation for the bank as well as for the country’s financial industry. The listing happened only seven months after he took the office, at a time when the government had just bailed out the bank from a collapse triggered by his predecessor bribery case.

Shang is also a former CSRC head - he was succeeded by Guo in a 2011 reshuffle. At CSRC, he implemented split-share structures in China for the first time, a move that helped facilitate China's later overseas M&A activity.

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