CIO Lee leaves Korea’s KIC

Don Lee has resigned from Korea’s SWF after only 21 months in the position.

Dong-Ik (Don) Lee, the chief investment officer of $57 billion sovereign wealth fund Korea Investment Corp, has resigned, a spokesman for the organisation confirmed to Private Equity International

Lee replaced Scott Kalb as chief investment officer in April 2012 and was the first Korean national to enter the role. His term as CIO was for three years, but he served only 21 months.

KIC has appointed Keehong Rhee as acting chief investment officer, who was most recently chief representative at KIC’s New York office, according to the spokesman.

Lee is the second senior departure from KIC in the last few months. In November, KIC’s president and chief executive Chong-suk Choi resigned from the organisation for personal reasons, PEI reported at the time.

Lee took over Choi’s duties in the interim, until December when KIC appointed Hongchul Ahn as the chairman of the board of directors & chief executive.

Lee was previously KIC’s managing director and head of private markets group, and has been with KIC since 2008, according to the organisation. 

He also had a private equity orientation, previously spending five years as head of investments at STIC Investments, a private equity/venture capital firm in Korea.

KIC allocates 6.1 percent of its assets to alternative investments. About 31 percent of that total or roughly $1.1 billion is invested in private equity, which as of the end of 2012 has delivered an annualised return of 10.8 since inception in 2009, higher than all other investments, traditional or alternative, when measured by return since inception, according to the 2012 annual report.

Korea’s institutional investors have been hungry for higher returns abroad to offset soft domestic growth and low interest rates at home. Many pension funds and other entities are now seeking to put capital to work in alternatives outside Korea. But KIC has been one of the early movers, opening offices in New York and London and last year starting a program of direct investment in China.