China's Iran specialist Zhuhai Zhenrong tips senior crude trader as head

A general view of a crude oil importing port in Qingdao, Shandong province, November 9, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) - Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp, a state-owned trader that started China’s Iranian oil business, has appointed a senior trading manager to head the company, officials at the firm said on Tuesday.

Li Youmin, who joined Zhuhai Zhenrong in 1996 as her first job out of university shortly after the company was set-up, became its new general manager effective in June, replacing Zhang Dongquan who has retired, the officials told Reuters.

Zhuhai Zhenrong is now a subsidiary of Macau-based state-controlled conglomerate Nam Kwong Group, following a recent merger under the Chinese cabinet’s plan to consolidate state-owned enterprises.

Li, in her 40s, was hired by the founder of Zhuhai Zhenrong, Yang Qinglong, a legendary figure who brokered and started oil dealings between Beijing and Tehran in 1995.

At that time, Iran was supplying oil to China to pay for arms supplied by Beijing during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, and Zhuhai Zhenrong still specializes mainly in buying Iranian oil.

Li has work since she joined in the company’s crude department, which now lifts about 240,000 barrels a day from Iran under annual supply pacts. She was heading up the crude department when she got the nod to run the company, and now leads a Beijing-based team of 40.

Under the merger with Nam Kwong, two other trading units previously under Zhuhai Zhenrong - Tianjin Zhenrong International Trading Co Ltd and Tianbao Petroleum Trading Co Ltd - also become subsidiaries of the Macau conglomerate.

Beijing-based Tianjin Zhenrong, which also deals oil with Iran, focuses on refined fuel such as fuel oil and petrochemicals.

Prior to the merger, Nam Kwong was into real estate, logistics and travel, as well as small-scale natural gas and petrochemicals.

Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Tom Hogue