Korean-Americans favored as heads of top global private equity funds

2021.10.14 13:32:27 | 2021.10.14 13:32:51

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Korean-American financiers are taking center stage at the global private equity fund scene as they are highly noted of their diligent behavior that serves the basis for mega deals in the funding world.

Joseph Bae, a Korean American and co-president of KKR & Co., was elevated to co-chief executive at the world’s No. 3 private equity firm, to succeed Henry Kravis and George Roberts who co-founded the firm. Bae, 48, has been involved in the firm’s multiple mega deals in Korea, including its $1.8 billion takeover of Oriental Brewery in 2009. KKR sold OB for $5.8 billion five years later.

Bae is known for his bridge-building role between foreign capital and Korean companies.

Other Koreans and those of Korean origin are also taking a bigger role at global private equity funds as they indulge deeper into international finance market, industry observers noted.

In October, last year, Carlyle Group, a private equity fund with over 300 trillion won ($252.1 billion) assets under management, named Korean-American Lee Kew-song as the sole chief executive. Lee joined Carlyle Group in 2013 and had been co-chief since 2018. He started his career at McKinsey & Co. after receiving M.B.A. from Harvard University.

Michael Chae, another Korean American, has been chief financial officer at top global private equity fund Blackstone Group since 2017. The fund with 700 trillion won assets under management recently revamped its office in Korea and is seeking to expand investment across Asia.

Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) with over 400 trillion won assets under management also named Korean American Kim Su-yi as global head of private equity department in July. The team plays the role in supplying funds to private equity funds as limited partner.

Market watchers noted that financiers of Korean origin have an upper hand for their sincere and honest attitude.

An unnamed investment expert said that Koreans and Korean origins work hard, just like Jews. The expert added that world’s top 3 private equity funds receive 100 investment letters every day and “working hard and long” is an important element unlike investment bank industry where sales and business capabilities are highly recognized.

By Park Chang-young and Lee Eun-joo

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