BEIJING – The head of China's securities regulatory body is reluctant to switch to the top job at the country's $482 billion sovereign wealth fund as he has only been in the post for around 18 months and still has work to do, two independent sources said.
Reuters reported on Thursday that 56-year-old Guo Shuqing, a seasoned English-speaking chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), was tipped to head the state investment vehicle China Investment Corp (CIC) as part of a sweeping reshuffle of top financial portfolios by a new generation of leaders.
The CSRC denied the report via state news agency Xinhua and the English online edition of the People's Daily. "We don't know where they got the information ... We think it is groundless hearsay," Xinhua quoted an unnamed CSRC spokesperson as saying.
Two sources with ties to China's leadership said Guo declined the offer to move, and it was unclear if he would eventually be persuaded to take it.
"He's reluctant to go because he has been with the CSRC for less than two years," said one source, who didn't want to be identified to avoid repercussions for discussing secretive elite politics. Guo took over at the regulator in October 2011.
The sources said the People's Bank of China - the central bank - and the country's top banking, securities and insurance regulators would not appoint new leaders this year so they could maintain the momentum of financial reforms.
"(Guo) still has a lot to do," one of the people said, referring to the reforms.
A financial industry source said Guo was once considered the most ideal candidate for the post of central bank governor as his "resume was complete". Guo previously served as chairman of China Construction Bank <0939.HK>, the country's second-largest bank, and was vice governor of the impoverished southwestern province of Guizhou.
Outgoing CIC Chairman Lou Jiwei will likely be named finance minister, multiple sources have said, when Premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang forms his cabinet during the 2-week session of parliament, or National People's Congress, that began on Tuesday.
Three alternative candidates could fill the CIC post if Guo does not take the job, the sources said.
Li Jiange, chairman of China International Capital Corp, the country's top investment bank, is the front-runner, the sources said, ahead of incumbent CIC President Gao Xiqing and Jiang Jianqing, chairman of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China <1398.HK> <601398.SS>, the world's biggest bank by market value.
(Reporting by Benjamin Kang Lim; Editing by Koh Gui Qing and Ian Geoghegan)