KIC hit by top executive resignations

Barely a month after appointing a new chief executive, the Korea Investment Corporation faces a management shakeup as three top executives leave their post.

The chief investment officer of South Korea’s sovereign wealth fund Korea Investment Corporation (KIC) Heungsik Choo has resigned together with chief operating officer Young Kim and chief risk and compliance officer Taeg Ki Hong.

The departures come only a month after former World Bank director Sung-So Eun assumed his post as new chief executive and chairman of KIC.

In his inauguration speech last month, Eun promised a reform agenda for KIC, stating his top priority is to “build up trust by going through a painful restructuring and reform.”

There has not been any announcement on who will replace Choo, Kim and Hong but it is understood that Eun is accepting all resignations.

Choo led KIC’s investment team for almost two years. Prior to joining the sovereign wealth fund in 2014, he was head of the reserve management group at the Bank of Korea. He also worked briefly at the World Bank.

KIC’s private equity exposure accounts for about 3.8 percent of its $85 billion of assets under management, according to its latest annual report. The fund has committed to Longreach Capital Partners II, Tata Capital's Tata Opportunities Fund, Swedish private equity fund EQT VII and the Blackstone Group's GSO Capital Solutions Fund, according to PEI's Research & Analytics division.

Kim has been with KIC since 2007, where he was head of corporate planning and affairs before assuming his post as chief operating officer in 2011. In his career he has worked with the Incheon Free Economic Zone Authority, Korea Venture Acceleration Center, N Research and Pacific Gemini Partners.

Hong has served as KIC’s chief risk and compliance officer since April 2012, and has also held key positions at the Bank of Korea for several years.

KIC has seen a spate of senior departures in the past two years with former chief investment officer Dong-Ik Lee stepping down in January 2014, shortly after president and chief executive Chong-suk Choi resigned from the organisation for personal reasons, as reported by Private Equity International.

Its current chief executive, Sung-So Eun was just appointed in January, having replaced his predecessor Hongchul Ahn, who resigned in November 2015 amid allegations of mismanagement.

The National Pension Service of Korea has also faced a management shakeup in the past year. Two former heads of the NPS, its former chief executive officer and chairman Kwang Choi and chief investment officer Wan-seon Hong, had both stepped down one month after another, following a dispute over plans to spin off the fund’s investment management unit as a separate public firm. Choi left NPS in October and Hong resigned a month later.

Choi was replaced by Hyung-pyo Moon, the former health and welfare minister of Korea, while Myun-wook Kang now serves as NPS’ chief investment officer.

KIC has declined to comment.