KIC appoints World Bank director as new chief

Promising to pursue a reform agenda, Sung-soo Eun will become CEO  and chairman following the resignation of Hongchul Ahn.

Sovereign wealth fund the Korea Investment Corporation (KIC) has named former World Bank Director Sung-soo Eun as new chief executive and chairman following the resignation of Hongchul Ahn in November.

Eun said in his inauguration speech that the KIC’s top priority is “building up trust by going through a painful restructuring and reform.”

He also highlighted the need for transparency and professionalism throughout investment and management processes.

The KIC oversees about $85 billion in assets. At the end of 2014, KIC had invested 3.8 percent of its total assets in private equity. The fund has invested $100 million in a private equity fund managed by World Bank investment arm the International Finance Corporation, and $100 million in US-based pet supplies and services retail chain PetSmart, as part of a takeover led by private equity firm BC Partners.

KIC has co-invested with the Investment Corporation of Dubai, the principal investment arm of the Government of Dubai, and Fondo Strategico Italiano, the Italian sovereign wealth fund.

Before joining the KIC, Eun was executive director at the World Bank. Prior to that, he held various positions at Korea’s Finance Ministry, which he joined in 1984. He was also Korea’s deputy minister for International Affairs at the Ministry of Strategy and was actively involved in international and regional cooperation as a G20 and ASEAN+3 finance deputy minister.

Ahn had served as CEO of KIC since December 2013 and was previously a statutory auditor at the fund from 2005 to 2008. He stepped down in November, a year before his term ended in December 2016, amid controversy over his investment decisions, low investment returns and mismanagement.

Ahn has been criticised for leading the controversial and unsuccessful purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team. South Korea’s state auditor subsequently launched an investigation into the failed deal. Opposition lawmakers also called for Ahn’s resignation due to his criticism of late president Roh Moo-hyun’s policy of engagement with North Korea.

KIC has seen other senior departures in the past two years. Chief investment officer Dong-Ik Lee stepped down in January 2014. Months before, KIC’s president and chief executive Chong-suk Choi resigned from the organisation for personal reasons, Private Equity International reported at the time.