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S.Korean Pension Fund Installs Former Minister as Chairman

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May 27 (Bloomberg) -- Choi Kwang, a former South Korean government minister, took office today as chairman of the National Pension Service, the nation’s biggest investor, the agency said.

Choi, who headed the Ministry of Health and Welfare in 1997-1998, will lead the pension service, which has about $350 billion in assets, the NPS said in a statement to media organizations today. The 66-year-old official was chosen by a seven-member committee and his nomination was announced in a May 24 statement from the health and welfare ministry, which oversees the NPS.

The ministry has been seeking to diversify the NPS’s investments to boost returns for its members. The agency is aiming to increase the amount of funds invested in overseas stocks to more than 10 percent by 2017 from 5.7 percent in 2011, according an asset-allocation plan posted on the ministry’s website on May 31, 2012. The plan calls for the percentage of investments in foreign bonds to rise to less than 10 percent in 2017 from 4.2 percent in 2011.

“We will work toward securing liquidity, stable and long-term profit and also diversifying our investment portfolio as well as fulfilling our social responsibilities,” Choi said in notes for a speech to be presented at his inauguration ceremony at the pension service’s office in Seoul today.

Choi taught economics at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies from 1985 to February this year and served as the head of the Korea Institute of Public Finance from 1995-1997 before taking office as health minister, the NPS said in today’s statement to the media.

Former NPS Chairman Jun Kwang Woo offered his resignation in February.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sharon Cho in Seoul at ccho28@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Darren Boey at dboey@bloomberg.net

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