Dec 16, 2016 02:55 PM

Baosteel's Former Chief Named to Government Technology Post

Xu Lejiang is the newly appointed deputy head of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Photo: IC
Xu Lejiang is the newly appointed deputy head of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Photo: IC

(Beijing) — A prominent steel executive who laid the groundwork for a recent mega-merger has been named a vice minister at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), which among other tasks promotes heavy-industry upgrading.

Xu Lejiang, 57, was appointed to the government post after 34 years with Baosteel Group Co., which recently merged with Wuhan Iron and Steel Corp. to form China's largest steelmaker by volume, Baowu Steel.

Xu's appointment was recently announced on MIIT's website. Xu left Baosteel earlier this year after nine years as the steelmaker's chairman and party chief.

Xu will supervise MIIT departments and bureaus that oversee industrial policy, industry operations monitoring, small- and midsize enterprises, and the raw materials sector, according to the website.

In addition to his new MIIT post, Xu will continue serving as an alternate member of the powerful, nearly 400-member Communist Party Central Committee, which elects party leaders.

Xu joined Shanghai-based Baosteel after earning a bachelor's degree in metallurgical machinery from Jiangxi Metallurgy College, which is now Jiangxi University of Science and Technology.

During the Baowu merger process, Xu was cited as a popular candidate to head the new company. But government executive rotation rules for state-owned enterprise (SOE) executives required that Xu transfer to another field of work.

The rules say an SOE chairman must transfer after three consecutive terms in the same position.

The merger was ordered by the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, a State Council board that oversees SOEs, in a bid to consolidate the fragmented steel industry and battle excess capacity. The order followed the September 2015 publication of SOE reform guidelines.

Baowu is now the world's second-largest steel producer with total assets exceeding 700 billion yuan ($101.4 billion) and an annual output of about 60 million tons.

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