Chairman of ICBC steps down amid increasing leadership shifts in Chinese banking institutions.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the country’s largest state-controlled bank and the world’s third-largest lender by market capitalisation, has recently announced a significant change in its leadership. This is the latest in a series of leadership reshuffles that have taken place in China’s banking sector in the past month.

According to a statement released by the company on February 1, Chen Siqing, the lender’s chairman and executive director, has tendered his resignation to the board of directors with immediate effect. The statement cited Chen’s age as the reason for his resignation and stated that he had no disagreements with the board. It also assured that there were no matters related to his resignation that needed to be brought to the attention of the bank’s shareholders and creditors.

The statement also acknowledged Chen’s contributions to the bank during his tenure, stating that he had diligently performed his duties, strived for innovation, and was committed to progress. The board of directors expressed their sincere respect and gratitude to Chen for his excellent contributions to the bank.

In a separate announcement, ICBC revealed that Liao Lin, the bank’s president and vice-president of the board, had been elected as the new chairman. However, Liao’s appointment is subject to approval by the National Administration of Financial Regulation (NAFR), which falls under the State Council, China’s cabinet. Until a new president officially takes office, Liao will perform the duties of the president to ensure the smooth operation and management of the bank.

These changes come in the wake of a series of resignations and appointments that have taken place across China’s banking sector since the beginning of the year. On January 30, the Bank of Shanghai, which is majority-owned by state-controlled companies, appointed a new chairman and president. The following day, China Everbright Bank, backed by the finance ministry and Central Huijin Investment, also announced a new chairman. This change came after the arrest of China Everbright Group’s chairman and party secretary, Tang Shuangning, on suspicion of embezzlement and bribery.

According to Shen Meng, director at Beijing-based investment firm Chanson & Company, the high turnover of senior executives in the banking sector may be due to a combination of bosses reaching retirement age and a crackdown on corruption and misconduct in the industry. Shen stated that the government has implemented stricter measures to regulate the behavior of financial institutions and is currently in the process of cleaning up illegal and irregular activities in the financial system. As a result, many banks are now seeing vacancies for more senior positions, leading to the recent series of personnel changes.  

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