Heung-Sik Choo Ranks #5 on Public Investor 100-2015
Heung-Sik Choo, the Korea Investment Corporation’s chief investment officer, faces a daunting task of deploying capital in a growing Asian sovereign wealth fund. The KIC has even pondered accepting third-party capital from other Korean institutions, an option that would push the institutional investor closer to Korea’s National Pension Service in terms of investment style. Under Choo, the KIC has taken an approach to try to manage more assets in-house, while seeking out leading alternative firms for manager allocation. During the early KIC years, the wealth fund made some direct investment blunders. The private equity fund investments fared better than the direct investments. The calculating Choo clearly has a grasp on the need of sourcing alpha-generating alternative and co-investments. To that end, the KIC wants to partner more with other wealth funds, pensions and private equity managers in collaborative deals. In 2014, with the help of the Korean government, the KIC launched Co-investment Roundtable Of Sovereign And Pension Funds (CROSAPF), a member-driven event platform to bring asset owners and alternative managers together. Although similar to IFSWF meetings, CROSAPF focuses more on deal flow.
Heung-Sik Choo is a fixture in Korean government finance circles. The mild-mannered financial wizard started with the Bank of Korea in 1982, moving up the ranks. Choo had a small stint at the World Bank, lending him greater exposure to other government financial processes. He then came back to the Bank of Korea, eventually reaching the role of head of reserves management. In 2012, during his job at the Bank of Korea, Choo was keen on diversifying Korea’s foreign exchange reserves. He remembered the monetary crisis of 1997. His career has been a standard in what to do right ever since.
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