Sovereign wealth fund Korea Investment Corporation (KIC) has started the process to replace chief executive officer (CEO) Choi Hee-nam when his tenure ends next month.

KIC recently issued a request for proposals to find a headhunting firm to nominate candidates for the position, industry sources said. Proposals are due on Monday (February 15) and the final result will be announced two days later.

The selected firm will be responsible for submitting a list of qualified candidates to the fund’s CEO nomination committee, which consists of two members chosen by the Minister of Economy and Finance and the Bank of Korea governor, and a further four members from the private sector.

KIC’s articles of incorporation state that its CEO is appointed by the South Korean president on the recommendation of the Minister of Economy and Finance after candidates are evaluated and screened by the CEO nomination committee. The term of office for a CEO is three years, with a possible extension of one year.

Choi became the seventh CEO of the fund in March 2018. His predecessor was Eun Sung-soo, chairman of the watchdog Financial Services Commission.

KIC had $183.1 billion in assets under management at the end of 2020 and last year achieved a record investment return of 13.7%, or $21.8 billion, despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on financial markets.

The fund attributed the results to returns on equities and bonds that significantly outperformed its benchmarks. A bigger allocation to longer-term investments and the launch of new investment strategies also contributed to the higher return.

In 2020, KIC allocated 42.7% to stocks and 35.2% to bonds. Alternative assets accounted for 15.3% or $27.9 billion, up 13% from 2019. (Reporting by Hee-yeon Han)