Korea Investment Corporation (KIC) has established its first-ever dedicated responsible investment team amid a restructuring as it also appointed new heads for the real estate, infrastructure and public assets investment teams.
The responsible investment team will fall under the newly-created investment strategy and innovation group, and will be led by Choi Jin-suk.
Choi has worked for KIC for nine years, and been focusing on environmental, social and governance (ESG) analysis since 2016.
He was part of the team responsible for the global issue of the Korean government’s five-year green and sustainable bonds worth $500 million in 2019. He has also been in charge of ESG strategic funds through the global equities portfolio.
He will report to former head of real estate Lee Seung-kul, who now leads the investment strategy and innovation group. The team comprises three ESG experts, including Choi, a spokesperson told AsianInvestor.
The launch of the team comes amid a restructuring of the investment teams. Previously, two main divisions reported directly to the CIO – a broad investment strategy division and the alternative investment division.
Now, the investment strategy division has been split into two: the investment strategy and innovation division, and the public markets division, the $196 billion sovereign wealth fund announced on Aug 24.
The new responsible investments team, among others, will fall under the new investment strategy and innovation division, while the public markets division will comprise equity, quantitative and fixed income groups.
Lee Hoon was previously head of the investment management division.
The new innovation division has been tasked with implementing new chief executive Jin Seoung-ho's long-term strategic goals on asset growth, alternative asset expansion, responsible investments, and contribution to the development of the domestic finance industry, the spokesperson said.
Since taking office in May, Jin has pledged to lead KIC to become one of the world’s top 10 sovereign wealth funds.
KIC had invested $1.79 billion into ESG bonds as of March this year, according to its second annual Sustainable Investment Report published on June 18.
As part of the restructuring, KIC has also reshuffled the management teams for real estate, infrastructure and traditional assets with several new appointments.
Joseph Cha Hoon, who joined KIC eight years ago and recently headed the infrastructure group, succeeds Lee Seung-kul to lead KIC’s real estate investments.
Meanwhile, Choi Seo-jin has been promoted within the team to replace Cha as head of infrastructure group. Choi was based in KIC's New York office between 2016 and 2019.
Both Cha and Choi report to head of the alternative investment division Kim Jong-ho.
KIC has a target of raising alternatives allocation by 20% by 2024 and to more than 25% by 2027.
Meanwhile, Park Jin-seong, the former head of alternative investment strategy group, is now heading the newly-created public market division to oversee traditional assets. Park joined KIC in 2006.
The three division heads, Park, Kim and Lee Hoon, will also serve as deputy CIOs of KIC and report to the CIO.
All changes have been in effect as of Aug 24, the spokesperson confirmed.
KIC managed $195.7 billion of assets by the end of May. It has 291 employees, excluding executives, as of early June.