China's top securities regulator stepping down: WSJ

China Securities Regulatory Commission Chairman Xiao Gang addresses the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong January 19, 2015. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

(Reuters) - The chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), Xiao Gang, is stepping down, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing Chinese officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Xiao will be replaced by Liu Shiyu, current chairman of the Agricultural Bank of China Ltd (AgBank) 601288.SS1288.HK and a former deputy governor of the People's Bank of China, the central bank, the WSJ reported on Friday.

An announcement on the change is expected “within days”, the newspaper reported on its website, citing the officials. It did not give further details.

The CSRC declined to comment when contacted by Reuters. AgBank could not immediately be reached for comment.

Xiao and the CSRC have come under scrutiny for policy moves in the past year as the Shanghai and Shenzhen markets experienced a steep rise until mid-June of last year, and then a sharp fall.

Reuters reported in January that Xiao, 57, had offered to resign following the sudden withdrawal of a “circuit-breaker” mechanism launched at the start of this year.

That mechanism had been intended to limit any market sell-off, but many investors blamed it for contributing to a series of falls in the first days of trading this year, which contributed to global market jitters.

It was unclear whether the central government had accepted Xiao’s offer to resign, Reuters said in the January report. The CSRC said at the time that the report did not conform to the facts.

Reporting By Sudarshan Varadhan in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Jason Subler and Paul Carsten in Beijing; Editing by Neil Fullick