Korea’s state fund KIC moves closer to Silicon Valley with San Francisco office

Korea Investment Corporation CEO Choi Heenam speaks during a press conference at a restaurant in Seoul. KIC photo.

Korea Investment Corporation (KIC), the sovereign wealth fund of South Korea, is opening a new office in San Francisco within the year as it seeks to explore investment opportunities in Silicon Valley, according to Korean media reports.

KIC chairman Heenam Choi, speaking at the fund’s annual press conference held in Seoul, said KIC’s global operations had been limited to financial hubs such as New York, London, and Singapore.

The fund will partner with pension funds, private equity, and asset management firms based in California and will specialise in alternative investments going forward, Choi said.

The move, he told reporters, will bring it closer to the inner circle in Silicon Valley where the fund can explore investment opportunities and get better access to information about promising startups in the area.

“Instead of pursuing our previous strategy of expanding presences in international financial hubs, we will seek a new localization strategy tailored for alternative assets,” Choi was quoted as saying.

KIC plans to send two employees to the San Francisco office, which will be under supervision of the fund’s New York branch.

KIC chief risk officer Yoo Chang-ho told reporters that the New York office is too far from San Francisco that it has become difficult for the fund to join Silicon Valley’s inner circle.

KIC already operates KIC Silicon Valley, a program that helps Korean technology companies wanting to expand their business in global market. KIC Silicon Valley focuses on technology sectors such as AI, big data, cloud, cyber security, argument reality, virtual reality wearable and contents, digital marketing, and fintech.

KIC, founded in 2005, posted a 15.39-per cent return on investment, which translated into $20.2 billion in proceeds, in 2019. The result compared with a negative return of 3.66 per cent, or loss of $5.1 billion, a year earlier.

As of the end of 2019, the sovereign wealth fund had $157.3 billion of assets under management.

The Korean sovereign fund started investment in alternative assets in 2009 with private equity. Since then it has broadened the investment spectrum to include real estate, infrastructure and hedge funds and increased the assets under management.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.