KIC appoints World Bank director as new chief

Promising to pursue a reform agenda, Sung-So Eun will become president and CEO following the resignation of Hongchul Ahn.

Sovereign wealth fund Korea Investment Corporation (KIC) has named former World Bank Director Sung-So Eun as new chief executive (CEO) and president following the resignation of Hongchul Ahn in November.

Eun said in his inauguration speech that KIC’s top priority is “building up trust by going through a painful restructuring and reform.”

He also highlighted the need for transparency and professionalism throughout investment and management processes.

KIC oversees about $85 billion in assets. In July 2015 it was reported that the institution planned to increase its allocation to alternatives from 8 percent to 15 percent of its portfolio, a total that would include investments into infrastructure, real estate and private equity.

Before joining KIC, Eun was executive director at the World Bank. Prior to that, he held various positions at Korea’s Finance Ministry, which he joined in 1984. He was also Korea’s deputy minister for International Affairs at the Ministry of Strategy and was actively involved in international and regional cooperation as a G20 and ASEAN+3 finance deputy minister.

Ahn had served as CEO of KIC since December 2013 and was previously a statutory auditor at the fund from 2005 to 2008. He stepped down in November, a year before his term ended in December 2016, amid controversy over his investment decisions, low investment returns and mismanagement.

Ahn has been criticised for leading the controversial and unsuccessful purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team. South Korea’s state auditor subsequently launched an investigation into the failed deal. Opposition lawmakers also called for Ahn’s resignation due to his criticism of late president Roh Moo-hyun’s policy of engagement with North Korea.

KIC has seen other senior departures in the past two years. Chief investment officer Dong-Ik Lee stepped down in January 2014. Months before, KIC’s president and chief executive Chong-suk Choi resigned from the organisation for personal reasons, sister publication Private Equity International reported at the time.