KKR hires ex-Clinton official as Asian public affairs chief

Steven Okun, a former deputy general counsel at the US Department of Transportation, will lead the firm's regional public affairs, corporate citizenship initiatives and external communications.

Global private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts has bolstered its public affairs team with the appointment of former Washington official Steven Okun as director of public affairs in Asia-Pacific.

The firm in 2008 hired Ken Mehlman, former Republican party chairman and lobbyist for Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, as global public affairs head; it also hired Ludo Bammens, former director of public affairs for Coca-Cola Europe, as European corporate affairs director.

Starting 13 February, Okun will be responsible for overseeing KKR’s public affairs, corporate citizenship and external communications in Asia-Pacific, as well as supporting the public affairs and communications of the firm’s portfolio companies in the region, according to a KKR statement. A spokesperson was unable to confirm where Okun would be based, saying he intended to travel frequently throughout the region.

Okun is currently chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore. From 2003 to October last year, he was vice president for public affairs for UPS in Asia Pacific, before which he worked in the global company's Washington DC office.Prior to UPS, Okun served in the administration of former US President Bill Clinton as deputy general counsel at the Department of Transportation from 1994 to 1999.

“Given the significant growth of KKR’s Asia Pacific platform in the last several years, thoughtful and proactive engagement with the region’s numerous stakeholders is more important than ever,” Joseph Bae, managing partner of KKR Asia, said in the statement.