Korea Investment Corporation (KIC) has named the former head of Hanwha Asset Management as its new chief investment officer to run the sovereign wealth fund’s $96 billion of assets, according to industry sources on June 9.
Kang Shin-woo, 55, scored the highest in an interview for the position conducted last April and was confirmed as the CIO of the KIC, after the presidential office made reference checks on him. He will become the first CIO from the private sector of the state agency, and reportedly start work from June 13 to succeed Choo Heung-sik, who was named as director of the investment management division of the World Bank earlier this month.
The incoming CIO, who studied law at Seoul National University, has been tipped as the frontrunner among South Korea’s first-generation fund managers. He entered the then uncharted territory of fund management in the country by starting career at Korea Investment Trust in 1988. Since then, he led the stock management team of now folded Dongbang Peregrine Investment Management Trust in 1996 and served as the chief fund manager of the stock management team at the former Hyundai Investment Trust Management in 1998. He gained reputation as the chief manager of the “Buy Korea Fund” (currently, Hanwha Korea Legend Fund), which had fueled a nationwide stock investment boom.
He also had stints at Franklin Templeton Investments, Goodmorning Investment Trust Management and PCA Investment Trust Management, prior to serving as vice president-cum-CIO of Korea Investment Trust in 2005. After Hanwha Investment Trust and Prudential Asset Management were combined in 2011, he became the first CEO of the merged entity (currently, Hanwha Asset Management).
Kang has been regarded as aggressive in exploring new investment targets. He introduced a fund investing in U.S. shale gas, dubbed “Hanwha Energy Infra MLP Special Asset fund”, in 2014 for the first time in South Korea. His philosophy is finding talented management firms even for higher fees.
By Chang Jae Yoo
<Edited by Yeonhee Kim>