Chinese Regulator Approves New Huarong President Liang

China Huarong Asset Management Co. is on track to get a new president in the shape of Liang Qiang, who currently heads another bad-debt manager, according to regulatory officials familiar with the matter.

Liang’s appointment has been approved by the banking regulator’s Communist Party committee, said the officials, who asked not to be identified discussing a private matter. Liang’s recent promotion to president at China Great Wall Asset Management Co. doesn’t alter the plan to move him to a similar position at Huarong, the officials said.

The move, if it goes ahead, may instill greater investor confidence in the company’s management. Caixin reported earlier this week that Liang didn’t accept the appointment to become Huarong’s president, stoking concern among investors keen for clarity over the state-owned firm’s future. Beijing has said little about its plans for Huarong since a record selloff in the embattled company’s bonds began almost two months ago.

Huarong has continued to repay its bonds and said it has seen no change in support from China’s government. Huarong declined to comment on Liang’s move. The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Huarong’s dollar bonds largely held steady following the news with its 3.75% dollar bond due 2022 indicated at 75.5 cents on the dollar and its 4.5% perpetual is at 60 cents, Bloomberg-compiled prices show.

Liang, who was born in 1971, is a standing member of the All-China Financial Youth Federation, which is widely seen as a pipeline to groom leaders of financial state-owned enterprises. He has worked at the three other big state asset managers that were established, like Huarong, to help clean up bad debts at the nation’s banks.

Huarong has been without a president since Li Xin retired in November. The company’s former chairman Lai Xiaomin was executed for crimes including bribery in January. Lai was replaced in 2018 by Wang Zhanfeng as a corruption scandal was engulfing the financial giant.

Liang obtained a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1999 from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics and he also received an MBA from Tsinghua University in 2005. Before joining Great Wall, he worked at China Orient Asset Management Co., China Cinda Asset Management Co. and China Construction Bank Corp. His promotion to president of Great Wall was announced in January and approved this month.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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