May 08, 2013 04:24 PM

CCB Executive 'to Replace Ma Weihua at China Merchants'


Tian Huiyu(left),Ma Weihua (right)

(Beijing) – China Merchants Bank's president, Ma Weihua, will be succeeded by Tian Huiyu, China Construction Bank's retail banking director and the president of its Beijing branch, sources with knowledge of the matter say.

The 47-year-old Tian already replaced Ma as CMB's Communist Party secretary, a move announced by the China Banking Regulatory Commission on May 8. His formal appointment as the bank's president would follow soon, the sources said.

Tian previously headed CCB's branch in Shenzhen, where CMB is headquartered. He holds a master's degree in public administration from the University of Columbia in New York and is said by people close to him to have gained the respect of some high-level government officials for his reform-minded initiatives.

When heading CCB's Beijing branch, Tian pushed forward with reforms to the bank's organizational structure, reducing branches in the city to just over 30 from more than 100. The move encountered strong resistance and resulted in a number of sub-branch president being forced to leave. He also required the bank's top and medium-level managers to spare time for work-related reading on weekends.

The challenge he faces now is to manage a bank that has been often been identified with his predecessor's personal charm.

Ma, 64, has been CMB's president for 14 years. He oversaw its listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong in 2002 and 2006, and established it as customer-oriented, which has helped give the bank a competitive advantage.

"Ma deserves enormous credit for the brand promotion of CMB, and his long-term tenure at the bank has enabled consistency in the bank's corporate culture and development strategy," a CMB executive said. The bank would enter a period of "greater uncertainty" after Ma leaves, he added.

Both Tian and Ma were quite motivated people with innovative ideas, a bank executive with close ties to both bankers said. "Ma has left a deep impression on CMB. It is worth attention how Tian will inherit the bank's culture and carry on innovating."

It is unclear yet where Ma will be heading next or if he will retire. During the past few years there has no shortage of speculation over the issue because he is past the regular retirement age of 60 for men.

Some CMB insiders thought of that as reason why some of his more recent moves did not gather much momentum. Ma wanted to steer the bank towards providing service in small and family business financing by reforming its risk control and loan pricing mechanism. But many lower-level managers have held back from real changes because they were waiting to see "if the new president will be sticking to the same strategy," one of the insiders said.

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