March 22, 2018 / 3:21 AM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-China names financial heavyweight Guo to head new banking, insurance regulator

(Adds context of Guo's appointment, his background)

BEIJING, March 22 (Reuters) - Chinese financial heavyweight Guo Shuqing has been appointed head of the country's newly merged regulator for the banking and insurance sectors, Financial News, the official newspaper of the central bank, said in an online report on Thursday.

Beijing has merged the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) and China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) to resolve problems such as unclear responsibilities and cross-regulation as the government beefs up oversight of financial services to reduce risks in the banking system.

Guo, 61, who was appointed the head of CBRC just a year ago, has been widely expected to head the new regulator. Chinese financial publication Caixin reported the appointment on Wednesday, without citing direct sources.

During his first month as CBRC chairman, he started what was widely dubbed a "regulatory windstorm", implementing a flurry of new measures to tackle the banking industry's most complex problems from shadow banking and regulatory arbitrage to hidden bad debt.

During his 17 months as chief stock market regulator from 2011 to 2013, Guo drew up 80 new policies, fought widespread insider trading, advocated reform of the initial public offerings system, promoted the delisting of loss-making firms, and boosted the participation of foreign investors.

When Guo was governor in Shandong just before he joined CBRC, he came up with 22 new rules to reform the local financial regulatory system and Shandong became the first province to regulate private lending.

Guo, a philosophy major and once a visiting scholar at Oxford University, previously also served as a deputy central bank governor, the top foreign exchange regulator, a deputy governor of Guizhou province.

He also steered China Construction Bank Corp (CCB) to a successful public listing in Hong Kong in 2005 - the first among Chinese banks - and then in late 2007 on the Shanghai bourse. (Reporting by Shu Zhang, Josephine Mason and Lusha Zhang; Writing by Ryan Woo; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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