Korea Investment Corporation (KIC), the country’s sovereign wealth fund, has partially changed guidelines for how on-site due diligence can be conducted during its process of selecting external managers. The move seemingly came in response to the COVID-19 outbreak which has resulted in broad restrictions on overseas travel.

KIC revised its internal rules on due diligence performed during external manager selection, which was effective on April 14, sources close to the corporation said on Monday.

KIC changed Article 9 and Article 14 of its rules, which specify the process of selecting external managers in the categories of traditional assets and alternative assets, respectively. KIC added to each Article a sentence that reads “On-site due diligence can be conducted by an actual visit in principle, but other means including video conference and conference call may replace an actual visit if there is an unavoidable reason.”

Previously, KIC specified in its internal rules who can participate in on-site due diligence but had no detailed guidelines on how it can be performed. That was because visiting workplaces was regarded as normal in conducting on-site due diligence only a couple of months ago.

But, as the COVID-19 outbreak shows little signs of abating, broad restrictions on overseas travel have been prolonged, which forced KIC to consider ways of conducting remote due diligence. Revising the rules to stipulate that remote due diligence is allowed is also part of KIC’s efforts to be prepared for a possible state of emergency in the future.

KIC manages assets entrusted by the government, the Bank of Korea and other public foundations. Most of these assets, which include part of the country’s foreign reserves, are invested in foreign countries. KIC has about $156 billion in total assets under management as of the end of 2019, with 84.3 percent allocated to traditional assets, 15.7 percent to alternative assets such as hedge funds, private equity, real estate and infrastructure. (By reporter Han Hee-yeon)