Born in 1954 in Liaoning province, Tang Shuangning graduated with a degree in economics, then worked at China Construction Bank for seven years. He joined the People’s Bank of China and was later made a vice president of the China Banking Regulatory Commission when it was founded in 2003.
In June 2007 Tang was made chairman of Everbright Group – which was founded in Hong Kong, but was then lossmaking. The conglomerate included Everbright Bank which had Rmb15 billion of bad loans and accumulated losses of Rmb3 billion ($295 million), according to Reuters. Tang is credited with shepherding through a restructuring plan that involved financial assistance from Central Huijin (see WiC62 for more on this institution).
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Everbright Bank listed in Shanghai this week and soared 18% on its first trading day. By 2009, Tang had helped pre-tax profit reach Rmb7.6 billion and reduced non-performing loan ratio to 1.25%. That marked its best financial performance in 17 years. Tang forecasts that net profits will double in the next two years.
Poet at heart
Tang is the author of over 1,000 poems and is also an expert calligrapher who has held exhibitions in Hong Kong and Shanghai. His work has been included in collections at the China’s National Museum, and is also on display in Beijing’s Financial Street, with a prominent monument featuring three golden Chinese characters by his hand. He claims to have become a financial expert “by accident” and is regarded “firstly a calligrapher, then a banker,” by Wu Xiaoling, deputy director of the National Peoples Congress’ Financial and Economic Committee. For example, at a financial conference, he gave a speech rather unlike other delegates. While they they went straight to reams of Powerpoint-displayed data, Tang’s own presentation began: “Laozi says morality is as noble as water.”
In a prescient prediction of a coming financial crisis he noted in the same speech (given in 2006): “The water that bears the boat is the same that swallows. The water of finance, if poorly managed, will be quite damaging. The water of finance can be as gentle as a virgin, or as wild as a beast.”
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