[THE INVESTOR] The National Pension Service on June 28 confirmed that it has yet to end its search for a new chief investment officer, raising concerns about the prolonged vacancy of one of the top jobs at the state-run pension fund.
The NPS decided to reopen the search, after three shortlisted candidates failed to meet the qualifications for a post that overseas the fund’s 626 trillion won (US$558.39 billion) in assets.
Earlier in February, Korea’s largest institutional investor kicked off the recruitment, seven months after former CIO Kang Myoun-wook resigned before finishing his two-year term. Cho In-sik, head of global market, has been temporarily filling his position.
Among the 16 candidates who applied, eight advanced to the first round. Following the interviews, three candidates were shortlisted, including Thae Khwarg, ex-chief of Baring Asset Management Korea, Yoon Soung-mok, advisor of Jason Investment who formerly worked at NPS, and Lee Dong-min, former CIO of Bank of Korea. Kwarg was speculated to be the strongest candidate, but all three failed to pass Cheong Wa Dae’s vetting process, due to eligibility issues, sources say.
Industry watchers say the government has tightened the nomination procedure, following repeated vetting failure of the high-level posts. In April, former Financial Supervisory Service head Kim Ki-sik resigned after 15 days on the job when he was found to have misused political funds and went on overseas business trips sponsored by state-run organizations during his parliamentary term.
The NPS will form a nomination committee and start the job hunting process right away. But it is unsure whether the CIO will be picked by end of this year, raising concerns that a year-long vacancy could affect profits of the world’s third largest pension fund.
By Ahn Sung-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org)