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Sovereign wealth funds

KIC opens San Francisco office to boost VC deals

By Mar 26, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

KIC held an office opening ceremony online simultaneously in San Francisco (on left) and Seoul
KIC held an office opening ceremony online simultaneously in San Francisco (on left) and Seoul

The Korea Investment Corporation (KIC) officially opened its San Francisco office on Mar. 26, as part of its efforts to improve deal sourcing and increase direct investment in startups and technology companies based on the west coast of North America.

KIC hopes the new office will serve as a channel to further strengthen its network with other sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and global asset managers operating in the western US.

The San Francisco office became KIC's fourth overseas operation after New York, London and Singapore and will be under the direct control of the New York office.

"From a long-term perspective, KIC will aggressively boost investment in innovative companies that lead new paradigms," KIC Chief Executive Choi Hee-nam said in a speech for the opening ceremony.

"To invest in ventures and technology companies in Silicon Valley, it is important to enter their inner circle investment group."

Blackstone Group President and Chief Operating Officer Jon Gray and the GIC's US head of private equity Eric Wilmes delivered congratulatory speeches for the new office launch, KIC said.

KIC manages $183.1 billion in assets as of the end of last year. It plans to gradually raise the portion of alternatives from 15.3% to 20%, while aiming to more than double its assets to $400 billion under management over the next 15 years.

In 2019, KIC allocated $200 million to startup investments, part of which was funneled into the US autonomous vehicle maker Luminar and the US stock trading app Robinhood, Choi told The Korea Economic Daily in an interview last October.

To speed up startup investments, the South Korean sovereign wealth fund introduced a fast-track system for its chief investment officer to make startup investment decisions without reporting to CEO Choi, while capping the amount of its single startup investment at $20 million.

Last year, KIC's investment return came to 13.71%, versus 15.39% a year earlier. Between 2019 and 2020, it earned a combined $42 million in gains, or 60% of cumulative earnings since its inception in 2005. 

Write to Chang Jae Yoo at

Yeonhee Kim edited this article.

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