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NPS to expand in-house team, grow overseas offices

The world’s third-largest pension is in the process of bolstering its internal investment units as it seeks to make more direct and joint investments in infrastructure.

The National Pension Service of Korea is hiring infrastructure specialists to be based in its three overseas outposts.  

NPS posted a job opening today on its website looking for an investment professional at senior associate to vice-president level. The new recruit would be based in its London office and target infrastructure investments across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. 

The pension also announced in October that it was looking for people with similar profiles to staff its New York and Singapore outposts. A source familiar with the matter told Infrastructure Investor that the pension was in the process of shortlisting candidates for the latter openings, yet it is unclear how many people will be recruited. NPS had not responded to queries by press time.

In the job advert, NPS said the hires would help it boost its allocation to global markets. The investment teams in its overseas offices are responsible for identifying infrastructure fund, joint and direct investment opportunities across their respective regions. 

The pension is a member of the consortium that is acquiring the 50-year lease of Port of Melbourne, with a shareholding of 15 percent. The $7.4 billion transaction, led by Global Infrastructure Partners and Queensland Investment Corporation, achieved financial close last month. 

NPS’ chief investment officer Myun-wook Kang said in an interview with Korea Economic Daily that the fund would encourage overseas offices to “be more aggressive in exploring investment opportunities and participating in decision-making process”, while final decisions will continue to be made at the head office. 

The pension fund had grown to 543 trillion won ($461 billion; €434 billion) as of August 2016, from 100 trillion won back in 2003. Its AUM is projected to nearly double to 1,000 trillion won by 2022, according to reports. 

As of end of 2015, NPS counted 287 people in its in-house fund management staff. That included nine people in London, another nine in New York and four in Singapore, according to the pension’s annual report. Launched in August 2015, the latter is the pension’s newest office.

NPS had invested 7.7 trillion won in overseas infrastructure and 8.4 trillion won in the domestic market, as of the end of last year. Alternative investments accounted for 10.7 percent of its total assets.