Monday, June 05, 2006

Well, a reader alerted me of Huang Ju's return. It has been over four months since his last public appearance, and this appearance clearly represents a strong signal to the world that Huang is still an active political participant. However, given what we know about the workload for Chinese leaders (really heavy), I am sure some of his less important portfolios are still delegated to his colleagues. He might, however, be back on the financial beat. The article points out correctly that this will not have any short-term impact on the stock market. Although he was an early proponent of the share circulation reform, this reform is going quite smoothly, which partially explains the recent performance of the Chinese stock market. One issue that might be revived with his recovery is Citibank's deal with GDB. I wouldn't be popping champagns yet; Wen has in effect announced that no foreign bank can hold over 20% of a Chinese bank, and Huang is unlikely to be able to countermand that. To get the deal, Citibank and Carlyle will have to settle for a 20%/5% split of GDB. There is perhaps room to argue for a few more percentage for the future, but I wouldn't expect too much beyond that. Huang's return will, however, put some wind in the sail for the sale of GDB.

China Vice Premier Returns To Public View -Xinhua
(Updates with background and market reaction.)

BEIJING (Dow Jones)--China's sixth-ranking Communist Party official who oversees the country's financial sector made his first public appearance Monday since being absent from key official events since January.

Vice Premier Huang Ju, 68, attended a scientific conference in Beijing along with the eight other members of the Communist Party Standing Committee, the party's highest ranking body, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

In March, a government spokesman confirmed that Huang had been "unwell and underwent treatment in a hospital" following media reports that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Huang was absent from the annual meeting of China's congress in March, where the body approved a blueprint for China's economy over the next five years.

During his tenure overseeing the financial sector and state enterprises, China has opened its door wider to foreign investment and pushed market-oriented reforms. China's state banks have sold over $30 billion worth of shares to foreign investors and its domestic stock market has undergone reforms to float nontradable shares.

A Shanghai-based trader said he expects Huang's return to public duties will have little effect on domestic stocks. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index ended up 0.91% Monday at 1684.62.

Huang last appeared in public at a meeting of the China Banking Regulatory Commission Jan. 16, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Huang, a longtime ally of former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, was elevated to the Communist Party's top body in 2002 after serving as Shanghai Party Secretary from 1994-2002.

-By Rick Carew, Dow Jones Newswires; 8610 6588-5848; rick.carew@dowjones.com

-Edited by Andrew Bullard

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