Korea’s National Pension Service (NPS) is expected to appoint Lee Chan-woo as its next chief investment officer (CIO) within the next fortnight. Sources in Seoul say Lee is one of two to have made it through to a final round to determine who succeeds CIO Kim Sun Chung, but is regarded as the favourite.
It is understood that the NPS has been through two rounds of searches and has interviewed more than 25 candidates for the role. Lee, in fact, was one of the finalists when the NPS conducted its search for a CIO four years ago, but lost out on that occasion.
The NPS is a government unit and the CIO appointment will be for a two-year term, with the option of a one-year extension.
The government unit announced earlier this year that it was not going to extend Kim’s contract for the extra year, and the recruitment process is thought to have been initiated in July. Kim’s two-year term ended in August, but he will act as CIO in the interim until his successor is found. His future plans are not publicly known.
Getting this appointment right is of key importance to the Korean government, since the CIO will be responsible for managing $260 billion in assets for what is the world’s fourth largest pension fund.
NPS sources have indicated it will take a week or two before the final choice is officially announced.
Lee is CEO of the business operating division of the National Credit Union Federation of Korea, which is one of four major non-bank depository institutions in the country and manages about $37 billion in assets. He is a chief portfolio manager responsible for about $10 billion of it.
Lee’s previous positions include chief of fund operating management for the Korea Teachers Pension, which has about $10 billion in assets under management. Prior to that he was the first chief of the Kyobo Securities Research Centre, having started his career with Daewoo Securities.
Lee was not available for comment for this article.