Looking back: Top people moves of 2017

There were a few surprises this year, mostly driven by large alternative asset managers such as KKR announcing their succession plans.

Some of the most unexpected departures of the year took place at large pension plans, whether in California or in South Korea, while the most read people-move stories of the year on Private Equity International also included surprising appointments and exits.

Here are the top five people moves in private equity this year:

Sang-Hyun Yoo leaves NPS

In February, Sang-Hyun Yoo, who headed South Korea’s National Pension Service, resigned amid a slew of departures at the South Korea ahead of NPS’s relocation to a provincial city.

He was promoted to this role in July 2016 to oversee the fund’s international investment strategy across real estate, private equity, private debt, infrastructure and hedge funds, and was previously head of the global alternative division. He joined NPS in 2007 after working for Morgan Stanley.

Réal Desrochers exits CalPERS

Réal Desrochers, the managing investment director for private equity at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System pension left the largest US public pension plan in April after spending six years there.

Since then, he has joined asset management firm CITICPE, which is currently raising $2 billion for its latest China fund. As of 1 December, CalPERS had put its search for a permanent replacement on hold while it works to merge its private equity programme with global equities, and is relying on Sarah Corr to fill the position in the interim.

Pablo De La Infiesta trades Lazard for Moelis

Pablo De La Infiesta left his job as European fund placement and secondaries head at Lazard in the spring after 11 years at the firm. Shortly after, he accepted a position at Moelis & Company in London where he started in the fall.

At Moelis, he is a managing director and head of the private funds advisory group in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, marking the firm’s first hire in its push into European alternatives advisory.

Alex Navab retires from KKR

When KKR announced its succession planning in July, some in the industry were surprised that Alex Navab, who firm’s head of private equity in the Americas for eight years and had just helped raise $14 billion for KKR Americas XII, was not part of it and was leaving the firm. Instead, KKR picked Joseph Bae and Scott Nuttall to one day take over the leadership.

Navab recently said he’s considering acquiring companies or building his own business and in the meantime is devoting his time to philanthropy helping non-profit organisations fighting poverty.

Ruulke Bagijn joins AlpInvest

Ruulke Bagijn left her position as global head of real assets private equity at AXA Investment Managers after only 16 months on the job to join AlpInvest Partners, where she is now head and managing director of primaries.

Prior to AXA, she was at PGGM, where she took some measures that were industry game-changers, including declaring in 2014 that by 2020 PGGM would not be invested in private equity managers that did not fully disclose their fees.