Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Reports: China names aluminum boss to Cabinet

The general manager of China's biggest aluminum producer has been named to a Cabinet post, news reports said Wednesday, a week after his company helped secure access to foreign resources with a $19.5 billion investment in miner Rio Tinto Group.

The reported appointment of Xiao Yaqing of Aluminum Corp. of China as the Cabinet deputy secretary-general reflects the close ties between the communist government and the country's major companies. It comes amid a wave of foreign acquisitions by China's state-owned metals suppliers.

Xiao's appointment was reported by the Shanghai Securities News, which is published by the state Xinhua News Agency, and other newspapers. The Cabinet press office did not immediately respond to requests by phone and fax to confirm the report.

The reports gave no explanation of why Xiao, 49, who has no known government experience, was picked for such a prominent post. Bosses of Chinese banks, oil producers and other state-owned companies routinely alternate between corporate and government jobs.

Aluminum Corp. of China, also known as Chinalco, and other metals producers surged to prominence as China's demand for raw materials boosted imports and set off a scramble to secure foreign supplies. Flush with cash from the commodities boom, they have continued to pursue acquisitions amid the global economic turmoil.

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