Capt. Wei Jiafu, one of the most prominent maritime industry leaders over the past decade, has stepped down as chairman of the board of China Ocean Shipping (Group) Co. COSCO Group, the largest shipping company in China, announced the changes in its leadership on July 1.
Ma Zehua, former president of COSCO Group, has taken on the role of chairman, and Li Yunpeng has been appointed president of COSCO Group and also as a director of the company.
In August 2011, Wei was appointed chairman of the board and secretary of the party committee of COSCO Group. Before that, he had served as the company’s president and CEO since November 1998. He also served as managing director of several Cosco subsidiaries both in China and abroad. In 1993, as president of Cosco (Singapore), Wei led its public listing, which marked Cosco's first step into the international capital market.
He was twice speaker at The Journal of Commerce’s annual TPM conference in Long Beach, Calif. In 2012, he delivered the opening keynote speech.
Wei’s retirement was reported widely by SinoShip News and other Chinese media recently, and a spokesman for the company told JOC that it is quite common for state-appointed officials to step down when they have reached retirement age. Wei is 63 years old this year, and the usual retirement age for senior officials is 60.
His retirement comes at a time when China’s shipping industry is facing big losses amid a struggling world market. Listed subsidiary China COSCO Holdings Co. Ltd. earlier this year warned it faces delisting by the Shanghai Stock Exchange should it post a third consecutive annual loss.
Ma is 60 this year and is expected to be in the position for at most three years, according to normal succession practice in China. China COSCO Holdings’ stock price edged up 1.33 percent on Monday and closed at RMB 3.05.
COSCO ranked No. 8 by volume among container carriers in the U.S. import trade for 2012, and it was No. 13 for exports.