Korea’s sovereign wealth fund is set to announce a new chief executive less than a month after his predecessor resigned, according to local media reports.
Quoting government and financial market sources, several domestic media outlets stated that Ahn ‘Hank’ Hong-Chul was poised to re-join Korea Investment Corporation as president and CEO, replacing Choi Chong-suk, who stepped down on October 21, as reported.
They noted that Ahn had been nominated internally by KIC's search committee. The process will see him officially recommended by the strategy and finance ministry and subsequently be appointed by Korea's president, Park Geun-hye. A formal announcement by KIC will then follow.
If confirmed, it will mean that Ahn is returning to KIC, having served as its first auditor between 2005 and 2008. He started his career in Korea’s finance ministry, and spent two years working as commissioner of promotional agency Invest Korea from 2010 to 2012. He has also worked at World Bank as a financial specialist, and the Korea Centre for International Finance as vice-CEO.
His predecessor at KIC, Choi, had received a ‘D’ rating on June 18 in an evaluation of his 2012 performance by the strategy and finance ministry ('A' being the highest rating and 'E' the lowest). A source notes that the rating reflects on an individual’s performance rather than that of KIC itself.
A total of 96 institution heads were evaluated overall, with 15 receiving 'A's, 33 receiving 'B's, 30 being given 'C's, 16 'D's, and two 'E's. The number of heads who received a D or lower increased from eight in 2011 to 18 in 2012.
The evaluation “evaluated transparency and ethics management by assessing supply and recruitment irregularities”, says the strategy and finance ministry. “There were many examples of institution heads not being able to demonstrate sufficient competence in promoting strategic projects to advance current issues and develop middle- to long-term strategies.”
KIC received AsianInvestor’s institutional investor of the year award for Korea this February, as reported. Its performance has been deemed satisfactory, although it is exploring ways to boost returns. Recently it inked a deal with Russian state fund RDIF to form a cross-border platform for private equity co-investments, as reported.
KIC's chief investment officer, Lee Dong-ik, had assumed Choi’s responsibilities on an interim basis as KIC began its search for a replacement, a process that began on October 31.
KIC did not respond to AsianInvestor requests for comment on this article by press time.