ICBC Said Poised to Promote Company Veteran Gu to President

(Bloomberg) -- Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., the world’s largest lender by assets, is poised to promote Vice President Gu Shu to president, the bank’s second-most senior executive role, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Gu’s appointment will need final government approval, said the people, who asked not to be identified as they’re not authorized to speak publicly. The state-owned lender may announce the move as soon as this month, according to one of the people.

A promotion would put Gu, who joined ICBC in 1998, in charge of overseeing day-to-day management of a lender that has about $3.5 trillion of assets. It is part of a reshuffle that follows the retirement of former Chairman Jiang Jianqing in May. Former President Yi Huiman assumed Jiang’s role.

Investors are focused on the risks to China’s banks and economy from a rapid build-up of corporate debt and from bad loans among so-called “zombie” state-owned enterprises. ICBC eked out only 1 percent profit growth in the second quarter from a year earlier, but reported the first decline in its bad-loan ratio since 2012.

Gu became vice president in October 2013. He has postgraduate degrees in economics from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics and Dongbei University of Finance and Economics -- and was a visiting scholar for a year at Pennsylvania State University. His total compensation was 502,000 yuan ($75,000) in 2015, according to ICBC’s annual report.

A spokesman for the Beijing-based lender declined to comment.

With assistance from Heng Xie, Jun Luo