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Forex chief elected to chair bank
By Su Bei (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-03-26 05:40

Foreign exchange chief Guo Shuqing was elected board chairman of China Construction Bank on Friday.

Guo Shuqing. [newsphoto]
Guo, director of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, was appointed as the bank's Party secretary last week after secretary and chairman Zhang Enzhao resigned due to "personal reasons" amid allegations he had taken kickbacks.

"Guo is a man of strategic vision and strong sense of reform and renovation," the bank said in a statement.

He takes up his new post boasting a strong CV with leadership experiences.

He had worked as vice-governor of Southwest China's Guizhou Province, vice-governor of the People's Bank of China and director of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange.

He also served as department director of the former State Planning Commission and the State Commission for Economic Restructuring, the statement said.

"He will play an important role in the reform and development of China Construction Bank, as well as the bank's internationalization process," it said.

It quoted Guo as saying he would continue to push forward the bank's reform and development, and build the bank into a modern commercial bank with international competitiveness.

Wang Zhao, a senior researcher with the State Council Development Research Centre, said Guo is "a man of great ability."

"Guo's appointment suggests the central government has paid great attention to the bank's shareholding reform," Wang said.

Guo's appointment is also seen as a firm decision by the government to reform the country's financial sector.

"China's financial industry is expected to face fierce competition over the next five to six years following the country's entry into the World Trade Organization," Wang said.

"Zhang's alleged scandal coupled with other fraud cases at China Construction Bank suggested the bank was too fragile to compete with foreign competitions," he added.

The Xinhua News Agency said on Thursday the bank's Jilin Branch had been embroiled in two more fraud cases involving 328.44 million yuan (US$39.6 million) and US$8 million.

"Chinese banks will have to improve their corporate governance and internal control over the coming years," warned Wang.

Xinhua quoted an official from China Construction Bank as saying it would "beef up management and internal controls to avert more scandals."

"Internal control would be strengthened at a small number of branches" rocked by frequent fraud cases, the official was quoted as saying.

The bank, together with the Bank of China, was given a US$45 billion State injection in December 2003 when the government tried to turn them into joint stock banks.

China Construction Bank established a joint stock listing vehicle on September 21, 2004 following the split of the institution into two entities.

The Bank of China reorganized itself into a joint stock company on August 26, 2004 and becomes Bank of China Ltd.

Both banks are currently busy preparing for the final stock listing, but they refused to disclose the timetable.

Both banks are currently busy preparing for the final stock listing, but they refused to disclose the timetable.

By the end of September last year, China Construction Bank's bad loan ratio had dropped to 3.88 per cent, from 9.12 per cent at the beginning of the year.

(China Daily 03/26/2005 page1)

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