Korea’s MMAA splits CIO role to boost returns

In an attempt to improve the performance of its property investments, Korea's public pension fund the Military Mutual Aid Association has appointed two chief investment officers in charge of separate divisions.
Korea’s MMAA splits CIO role to boost returns

The Military Mutual Aid Association (MMAA) of Korea has split its chief investment officer role in an effort to improve the performance of its real estate investments.

The $8 billion public retirement fund for members of the armed forces created two CIO posts last month, one in charge of the finance division and the other responsible for the construction division.

The restructuring was implemented to tackle unprofitable investments in property over the past decade. According to Korea’s parliament, the MMAA has provided financing capital worth W5.5 trillion ($5 billion) for 76 real estate projects since 2002. But it has recovered only W3.2 trillion from 35 projects, with W2.3 trillion yet to be recouped.

The previous holder of the sole CIO post was Park Seok-Hwan, who held the position for three years but resigned at the end of December. He is believed to be looking for a new job.

Under the previous system, the CIO led four MMAA units: general investment management, alternative investment, securities investment and real estate. In the new structure, the alternative investments and securities investments departments will be controlled by the finance division CIO, while real estate and the special task force will fall under the construction division CIO’s remit.

Lee Sang-ho has been appointed CIO of the finance division. He joined MMAA in April 2014 as chief financial officer from Shinhan Bank, where he had served as director of the financial planning department, chief financial officer and chief risk officer. Lee said MMAA will increase its alternative investments to $14 billion in 2015 and about 80% of that will be invested in real assets.

The new CIO of the construction division is Shin In-Soo, former CEO of construction materials maker Koswhine. Before that, he was director of the social overhead cost business department at Doosan Engineering & Construction. He has also worked at Namkwang Engineering & Construction, Dasan Consultants, and Daegu East Circulation Road Company.

Kim Jae-dong has been appointed head of securities investment, overseeing all public- and private-market investments globally, and reports to Lee. He joined MMAA early last month after working at Baring Asset Management as head of equity fund management. He was previously with Choheung Investment Trust Management and Korea Investment Management.

MMAA had originally planned to appoint a construction specialist as Park’s successor. But it decided to divide the asset management organisation into two parts because of concerns that a construction specialist would be inappropriate for regular CIO functions.

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