The head of Korea’s soon-to-be sixth largest fund management company has voiced a desire to work with foreign asset managers in a product development and sub-advisory capacity.

Shin-Woo Kang, who will soon be officially anointed as president and CEO of Hanwha Asset Management, also discussed his intention to attract more retail clients.

Hanwha AMC will be launched formally on September 19 pending regulatory approval and this Wednesday’s shareholders’ meeting. It has been born of the merger between Hanwha Investment Trust Management and Prudential Financial, both based in Seoul.

This merger represents the final transaction from Hanwha Group’s acquisition of Prudential Investment & Securities in June last year.

The new entity will be Korea’s sixth largest fund management firm with about W17 trillion ($16 billion) in assets under management and combined staffing levels of around 170.

The merged firm, which is 62.2% owned by Korea Life Insurance and 37.8% by Prudential Investment & Securities, is expected to heighten competition among Korean asset management companies. While Hanwha Investment Trust is recognised for its strength in fixed income management, Prudential AM is known for its strong equity focus.

Kang, who recently resigned as deputy CEO of Korea Investment Management (the country’s fifth largest AM) to take on his new role, says his focus will be to acquire new clients, but more out of a desire to mix up the client base rather than in a hunt for AUM.

“As of now our main clients are institutional investors, a good majority of which are from Hanwha Group affiliates. I want to expand our clientele to include more retail investors, perhaps a 50:50 ratio,” he says.

Kang states that the new entity will prioritise the addition of more equity and alternative products, to complement existing shelf strength in fixed income.

In respect of overseas business, Kang comes across as globally orientated, noting that when he worked as deputy CEO at KIM he set up offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai to manage regional funds utilising local managers.

He says he plans to replicate this process at Hanwha AM and adds he would welcome the opportunity to work with foreign asset managers in terms of product development and sub-advisory.

“Our top priority is to enhance our capabilities to serve our clients in a more qualitative manner, beyond pure numbers growth,” he adds.

Prior to working at KIM, Kang held positions with Templeton AMC and PCA Investment Trust Management.