NPS promotes domestic alternative head to lead investment strategy

  • 2017-01-02

South Korea’s National Pension Service (NPS) appointed Su-Cheol Lee, who leads domestic alternative investments, as the new head of the pension fund’s investment strategy on Jan. 2, in a limited reshuffle of top managers just after its chairman was arrested on charges related to the country’s widening corruption scandal 

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Lee will succeed Young-Sig Yang who quit late last month and was named as private equity head of NH Investment & Securities Co. Ltd. As second in command after NPS Chief Investment Officer Myoun-Wook Kang in the Investment Management department, Lee will spearhead investment strategies of the world’s third-largest pension scheme, including asset allocation and environmental, social and governance stances.

The move comes just five months after Lee was promoted to domestic alternative investment head last July from the position of strategic research team head under the investment strategy division. He is the youngest among the eight top managers of the $460 billion fund’s Investment Management department, a rare promotion in the country’s seniority- and experience-based culture.

Since joining the NPS in 2006, Lee has been mainly involved in investment strategies and planning. He majored in business administration at the Seoul National University.

As Lee’s successor, Jae-Bum Kim, corporate investment team head under the domestic alternative investment division, was named to lead domestic alternative investments. Kim will take charge of real estate, infrastructure and private equity investments to be made in South Korea. For overseas investments in which South Korean management companies are involved, the domestic alternative investment division will handle them.

Kim had worked for a private credit rating company and served as alternative investment team head of the Korea Teachers’ Pension, before moving to the NPS in July 2015. He is regarded as a specialist in private equity, real estate and infrastructure investments both onshore and offshore. He had graduated from the Seoul National University’s economics department.

The reshuffle also comes as the state pension fund has been under tight scrutiny by special prosecutors and lawmakers as part of investigations into the corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye. A Seoul district court issued a warrant late last week to arrest NPS chief Hyung-pyo Moon on charges of ordering the state fund to approve the controversial merger of two Samsung Group units in 2015, at the instruction of President Park. Park denied the allegations in a tea meeting with reporters on Jan. 1.

Ahead of the pension fund’s relocation next month to a small city, about three-hour drive from Seoul, almost 30 senior investment managers left the NPS last year, far more than 10 investment managers who had quit the NPS in 2015.

Meanwhile, Sang-Hyun Yoo will remain as global alternative investment head. As global infrastructure investment team head, Gwangbum Koh will replace Changsuk Ok who has recently moved to a domestic investment firm. Koh has worked as a senior manager of global alternative investments at the NPS.

By Chang Jae Yoo

yoocool@hankyung.com

<Edited by Yeonhee Kim>