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China Minsheng Banking exec dismisses power struggle speculation after stake increase

China MinshengBanking Corp. Ltd. Vice Chairman Lu Zhiqiang dismissed mediaspeculation of a possible power struggle between him and the bank's largestshareholder, Anbang InsuranceGroup Co., after he purchased around US$1.1 billion of additionalshares in bank.

Oceanwide Holdings, a company founded by Lu, purchased atotal of 843,925,243 A shares in the bank from July 11 to July 15, the bank saidJuly 20. Following the acquisition, Oceanwide held a total of 1,682,652,182shares, or a 4.61% stake in the bank.

The shares were purchased for around US$1.1 billion,according to separate reports from Reuters and Bloomberg News.

In an interview, Lu told Bloomberg that the purchases werepart of Oceanwide's long-term strategy to become a financial conglomerate. Hedismissed Chinese media speculation that the recent purchases could result in apower struggle with Anbang Insurance.

In addition, Lu said his purchases have nothing to do with apossible board reshuffle at the bank. JPMorgan Chase & Co. bank analystKatherine Lei, however, said Lu, along with shareholders Orient Group, HuaxiaLife Insurance Co. and New Hope Group, is competing for seats.

Media speculation about a possible takeover came afterOrient Group and Huaxia Life Insurance agreed to act in concert to boost their influence in thecompany.

China Minsheng Bank's A share price closed at 9.31 yuan onJuly 21.

As of July 21, US$1was equivalent to 6.68 Chinese yuan.