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ICBC's president Yi Huiman poised to replace Jiang as chairman

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Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd said president Yi Huiman will become its next chairman, replacing Jiang Jianqing who is poised to retire after holding the top job at the world's largest bank by assets for 16 years.

[SHANGHAI] Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd said president Yi Huiman will become its next chairman, replacing Jiang Jianqing who is poised to retire after holding the top job at the world's largest bank by assets for 16 years.

The appointment, which was announced internally earlier on Monday, still needs board and regulatory approval, said an ICBC spokesman, who declined to be named citing company policy.

Mr Yi, 51, was also named Communist Party secretary for the Beijing-based lender, the spokesman said.

Mr Yi is set to move into the chairman's role at a time when slowing economic growth and rising bad loans are undermining more than a decade of annual profit gains at China's biggest lenders and hurting their ability to return money to shareholders.

ICBC's net income may drop 2.7 per cent this year, the first decline since it became a publicly traded lender in 2006, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Under Mr Jiang's leadership, ICBC was transformed from an almost insolvent firm, into a lender with a loan delinquency ratio of less than 2 per cent.

It's more profitable than any other company in the world except Apple Inc, earnings data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The son of a Shanghai doctor, Mr Jiang, 63, was dispatched to work in the fields like millions of other Chinese during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s.

After six years farming in Jiangxi province from the age of 17, he labored in a coal mine in Henan province for almost three years before returning to Shanghai in the late 1970s and joining ICBC as an accountant, Mr Jiang said in a 2008 interview with Bloomberg News. At 47, he became the youngest head of China's four state-owned banks.

Mr Yi was named ICBC's president in May 2013 after holding various positions at the lender.

BLOOMBERG