MOVES-China picks BoC boss Chen Siqing to head top bank ICBC - sources

SINGAPORE/BEIJING, April 22 (Reuters) - China has tapped veteran banker Chen Siqing to lead Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC), the world’s largest lender by assets, three sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Monday.

Chen’s upcoming appointment as ICBC’s chairman has been revealed to a group of senior executives but has not been announced internally to all staff, said the sources, who declined to be named as the matter was confidential.

Chen, who has served as chairman of Bank of China since August 2017, is one of the country’s most experienced banking executives.

He will have to steady ICBC’s profitability as the Chinese economy slows, threatening more bad loans. In October-December, ICBC saw no quarterly profit growth for the first time since 2016.

Some analysts are also wary of deteriorating asset quality as Beijing pushes state-controlled banks to increase lending to small, private companies which are seen as higher credit risks.

The appointment is still pending regulatory, shareholder and board approvals, said one of the sources.

The last ICBC chairman, Yi Huiman, was promoted to become China’s top securities regulator in January.

Officials who hold top roles in state-owned big lenders are usually seen as strong candidates for senior financial regulatory roles.

Reuters cannot immediately reached ICBC for comment. (Reporting By Shu Zhang and Cheng Leng; Editing by Kim Coghill)