KIC blazes trail for South Korean asset owners investing overseas
Sovereign wealth fund Korea Investment Corporation (KIC) is using its boots on the ground in overseas markets to support Korean institutional investors as they expand their foreign investment portfolios.
In a move to strengthen networks with venture capitalists and startups in the US, KIC last week hosted the second instalment of the Silicon Valley International Financial Cooperation Council (IFCC) at its office in Menlo Park, California.
“KIC has vigorously created opportunities to facilitate dialogue between South Korean institutional investors, both at home and abroad, and leading global investors, for exchanging information, enhancing knowledge and building networks,” KIC chief executive Jin Seoung-ho told AsianInvestor.
About 30 participants, including venture capitalists, asset managers, representatives of corporate venture capital firms and investment experts from a range of finance sector companies, attended the event to share investment expertise relating to state-of-the-art technologies.
Supporting the domestic finance industry is one of KIC's stated missions. As Korean investors have actively diversified their investment portfolios, especially when it comes to overseas markets, KIC has sought to aid their expansion by leveraging its international knowledge, experience and networks.
The main platforms for KIC’s efforts are the IFCC meetings, which its overseas offices organise, and the Public Community for Overseas Investment, held quarterly at the fund's headquarters in Seoul.
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KIC invites Korean public and private investors in New York, London and Singapore to its IFCC meetings, alongside local experts from asset management firms and international banks in the region, to help gain a balanced perspective on key investment issues and pursue mutual development.
"KIC's continued engagement with Korean institutional investors has led to a series of co-investing [initiatives] and the establishment of joint ventures," Jin said.
Joint-venture partners include the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation, the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperatives and Seoul Guarantee Insurance.
The New York office’s monthly IFCC events since November 2017 have reached 39 participating members.
IFCC events in London has taken place quarterly since February 2018 and have reached 22 members, while quarterly Singapore IFCC events have reached 25 members since August 2019, according to KIC data.
Last September, the KIC's San Francisco office launched its inaugural IFCC meeting, which US-based venture capital firm NEA joined alongside founders and engineers from its portfolio companies.
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The Silicon Valley IFCC meetings are planned initially to be held every six months, making the meeting on April 13 timely in terms of recent tech industry developments.
"With the advent of ChatGPT opening a new era of technological revolution, KIC will continue to fully support Korean institutional investors in Silicon Valley so that they can proactively make investments in the face of new investment environments and emerging industries," Jin told the Korea Times on April 14.
Lee Kyung-sik, head of KIC's San Francisco office, said the branch would continue to play a central role in connecting Silicon Valley investment experts with institutional investors in South Korea.
KIC first began investing in venture firms in 2017 and set up its Menlo Park office in March 2021 to expand direct investment in prominent venture companies and startups headquartered in Silicon Valley. Last month, KIC confirmed plans to open more offices, with Mumbai rumoured to be the top contender for the next branch opening.
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