EXCLUSIVE: Kang to leave Korea’s NPS

The global head of real estate at Korea’s $430bn National Pension Service is to leave the state investor after a decade of service.  

Andie Kang, the man responsible for investing billions of dollars in private real estate on behalf of Korea’s preeminent state investment fund, National Pension Service (NPS), is to leave after a decade of service.

PERE can reveal that Kang, who is global head of real estate at NPS, is expected to leave in April and embark on a new career in the private sector. 

No replacement is understood to have been chosen as of yet. NPS currently employs 10 in its overseas real estate team, including two working in its international offices. 

He brings the curtain down on a tenure which saw him oversee the growth of NPS’ international real estate portfolio to approximately $11 billion over the last five years making it one of the most active Asian institutional investors since the global financial crisis.

NPS currently manages about $45 billion in alternative assets, equal to approximately 10 percent of its entire assets.

During Kang’s time at NPS it has been involved in a raft of high profile transactions, both directly and indirectly and has generated strong returns for the fund. One of the most recent landmark deals under his watch was the sale of HSBC’s European headquarters in London for £1.175 billion (€1.57 billion; $1.79 billion) to the Qatar Investment Authority. It was the highest price paid for a single asset in UK real estate history. NPS bought it for £772.5 million in 2009, inferring a strong return from the sale.

On the indirect side, it was one of the first large institutional investors to back higher risk and return strategies after the global financial crisis, committing equity to value add and opportunistic strategies by firms including The Blackstone Group, Pramerica Real Estate Investors, The Carlyle Group and Rockspring Property Investment Managers.

It was also one of the first Asian institutional investor to put meaningful money to work in its home region of Asia, as many of its peers were expatriating capital to the Western markets. As recently as last year, it brought its backing to Asian strategies offered by Cleveland-based investment and advisory firm, The Townsend Group, to $1.3 billion, for example.

Kang’s departure comes as NPS grows its investment platform globally, opening an office in Singapore this month in addition to existing offices in London and New York. The state investor will be hiring foreign nationals for the first time also, bringing it more in line with other sophisticated state investment funds, such as Singapore’s GIC Private, which also hires foreign nationals and operates from offices around the world.

NPS declined to comment.