Ding Xuedong, chairman and chief executive of China’s $810 billion sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corporation, has stepped down from his post, according to a report from Caixin.
It is not clear who will replace Ding and what his plans are after leaving CIC. Local media reports, however, indicate that Ding’s departure signals he may be in line for a higher post in the country’s economic team, ahead of a leadership reshuffle in Beijing’s five-yearly national congress late this year.
Ding took over from Li Jiqun who resigned in 2013 to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Prior to joining CIC, Ding served as deputy secretary general at China’s State Council, from 2010 to 2013. He was also a former vice-minister at the Ministry of Finance from 2008 to 2010.
Ding was responsible for steering the sovereign wealth fund’s pool of assets, created in 2007 to help China earn higher returns on its foreign exchange reserves, which to date amount to $3 trillion.
He has been vocal about the need to shift CIC’s focus to global investments, particularly in the US. Under his watch CIC set up a direct investment unit in 2015, called CIC Capital, to more directly oversee the fund’s investments abroad. In the same year, the fund also moved its North America outpost from Toronto to New York.
In January this year, Ding told the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong that CIC would step up investments in US infrastructure and property, in order to better “manage global uncertainties by maintaining a diversified portfolio”.
CIC now maintains about 40 percent of its portfolio in alternative investments, which include private equity, real estate, infrastructure and hedge funds. In its latest annual report, published in July last year, CIC said the proportion of co-investments and club deals in its portfolio rose as the fund sought out more strategic partnerships with a “a few outstanding managers”.
Through co-investment, the sovereign wealth fund made two direct infrastructure deals in 2016 in Australia, backing Port of Melbourne and logistics company Asciano as part of consortia with fund managers and other institutional investors.