Pic: AP.

BEIJING (AP) — China’s chief bank regulator says companies including Internet giants Alibaba and Tencent have been picked to set up the country’s first five private banks.

Shang Fulin said Tuesday the private banks, part of sweeping reform plans announced last year, will be expected to operate independently and according to market principles.

Shang said preparatory work still was underway and gave no timetable for when the banks might open.

Regulators announced plans last year to allow privately financed banks as part of efforts to make China’s economy more productive by giving market forces a bigger role.