South Korea SWF To Expand In Alternatives

South Korea’s $46 billion sovereign wealth fund aims to expand alternative investments in areas like commodities and private equity, its new chief executive said, pledging to strengthen ties with foreign private equity and pension funds.

Korea Investment Corp. CEO Choi Chong-suk said in his inauguration speech that the fund would continue to actively invest overseas and could join deals with other global sovereign wealth funds, sister news service Reuters reported.

“Rising commodity prices, the emerging strategic importance of particular regions and capital resettlement due to volatile financial markets provide favourable opportunities for sovereign wealth funds,” said Choi, who has a private sector background with experience at Allianz Global Investors Korea, Hana Bank and Korea Exchange Bank .

The son of ex-South Korean president Choi Kyu-hah is tasked with managing funds entrusted by the country’s central bank and finance ministry. KIC, still heavily dependent on stocks and bonds, is trying to diversify its investments from dollar-based assets and make fresh bets such as the purchase of a $104 million stake in Singapore-listed commodities firm Noble Group .

KIC invests wholly outside the country, and was founded in 2005 from funds by the government and central bank.

(Ju-min Park is a correspondent for Reuters in Seoul.)