The new chairman of NH-CA Asset Management is setting out to reorganise the firm’s investment department and raise its global exposures and capabilities in a drive to break into the ranks of Korea’s top 10 fund houses.

Last month, the long-serving Lee Taejae was promoted to head NH-CA, which has $11.5 billion in assets under management and is the country’s 13th largest asset manager. He replaces Lee Jong Hwan, who had been CEO for one year.

Joint-venture NH-CA is 60% owned by NongHyup Financial Group, known in English as the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation (NACF), and 40% by France’s Amundi, the asset management subsidiary of Société Générale and Crédit Agricole.

The federation was established in 1961 to enhance the social and economic status of farmers and balance the development of the national economy. It offers loans and asset management capabilities for its more than 2.4 million members.

In March last year the NACF was spun out into one federation and two holding companies to increase its operational efficiency and competitiveness. NH-CA is one of seven affiliates under NH Financial Group.

The group's asset management unit, NH-CA, has developed onshore funds distributed to local retail investors through the NongHyup Bank network and other distributors. It also manages onshore funds for domestic institutions.

“In order to address the challenging environment that Korea’s asset management industry is facing, we will implement [an] internal reorganisation,” Lee tells AsianInvestor, adding it will do this namely by revamping its internal investment process and marketing approach.

“We will also move forward with our global business. With Amundi as a joint-venture partner, we will look to introduce more global asset strategies and products.”

NH-CA manages about $230 million in global equity funds, down from $1 billion from roughly five years ago. Weak domestic demand for overseas investments following the 2008 financial crisis lead to the drop - global equity investments by Koreans plunged to $23 billion from $50 billion during this time.

NH-CA’s largest domestic product is its leveraged equity index fund, which boasts more than $1 billion in AUM and is the 11th largest equity fund in the country.

Lee stresses that NH-CA will also look to manage more mandate accounts from NongHyup Financial Group, including the bank, life insurance business and other institutions within the holding company.

NongHyup Bank has $25 billion in AUM, NH Mutual $80 billion and NH Life Insurance $40 billion.

Lee has worked with NongHyup Financial Group for 34 years, having previously been vice-president in charge of asset management at affiliate NongHyup Bank.