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Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Korea’s NPS Appoints Ahn Jun-sang as Head of Real Estate Investment

Headquarters of Korea’s NPS (Image: NPS)

Korean pension giant National Pension Services (NPS) has appointed former Samsung Securities’ head of alternative investments Ahn Jun-sang to lead its real estate investment team in a rare hire of an outsider to a leadership role in its alternative investment division.

The world’s third largest pension fund, which managed KRW 984.2 trillion ($730 billion) in assets globally as of September, has been reshuffling its leadership this year as a number of senior team members have left its alternative investments unit, which oversees its real estate, private equity and infrastructure strategies.

Ahn is coming on board as head of real estate investment at the institution as the NPS rebounds from its worst-ever annual performance last year, when it suffered a KRW 79.6 trillion ($63 million) loss. During the first half of 2023, the NPS reported a 9.1 percent return on total investments, according to company disclosures.

New York Exits

Ahn has taken the reins from Rachel Oh Eun-jeong, who had led NPS’ real estate investment team from November 2021. Oh has now been tapped to head the fund’s New York office following the October resignation of that bureau’s acting chief, Yoon Hye-young, according to the Korea Economic Daily ↗, which first reported Ahn’s hire.

Ahn Jun-sang, the new head of real estate investment at NPS (Image: Google)

Yoon, who had also been the head of NPS’ Americas infrastructure team, had filled the vacant New York office head role following the brief tenure of former acting CIO and managing director of investment strategy, Park Seong-tae, who had left the US post in April after starting work there in March of this year. Park’s transfer to New York had been explained as part of NPS’ strategy to boost its overseas investments.

According to local media accounts ↗, Ahn was reportedly set to start work as head of real estate investment in July but saw his hiring annulled. His hiring was confirmed this month with a posting on the NPS website.

Ahn previously led real estate acquisitions as managing director of Korean real estate and infrastructure investment firm Yido, in addition to serving as CEO of the company’s Core Value asset management subsidiary. Prior to that, he worked for Samsung Securities in Seoul as the head of its alternative investment group.

Earlier, Ahn worked in director roles at RBC Capital Markets, Wells Fargo Securities, and RBS in Hong Kong and Singapore. He began his career as a senior investment manager for Samsung Life in Seoul, where he worked on the firm’s initial forays into real estate direct investments.

Ahn is a graduate of Cornell’s master of professional studies program in real estate, and earned his bachelor’s degree in real estate from Konkuk University in Seoul.

Leaning into Real Estate

NPS has seen its real estate portfolio grow 84 percent since 2018, with the fund managing KRW 52.1 trillion ($39 billion) of domestic and overseas real estate assets as of September, according to the company’s website ↗.

Real estate holdings accounted for 31.9 percent of the fund’s KRW 163 trillion ($121 billion) alternative investments portfolio and 5.3 percent of the fund’s total global assets as of September.

The fund’s real estate assets are predominantly located overseas, with foreign assets representing 86.5 percent of the portfolio as of December 2022. Of its overseas holdings, 38.8 percent were in the Americas, followed by Europe with 24.8 percent, Asia Pacific with 20.5 percent, and the remaining 15.9 percent categorised as global assets.

In November, the fund took an undisclosed minority stake in San Francisco-based real estate private equity firm Stockbridge Capital Group. Closer to Asia, the fund in July sold its 50 percent stake in an industrial property portfolio ↗ of 20 assets in Sydney and Melbourne to Australian pension fund UniSuper for over $338 million.

Michael Maren
Michael Maren
Former marine biologist who likes to spend as much time in the tropics as possible, due to a horrible time I once had in Alaska. Brrrr.

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