National Pension Service chairman Jun Kwang-woo said he would tender his resignation Friday.
“Chairman Jun’s decision to step down from his post comes in line with the upcoming expiration of President Lee Myung-bak’s tenure (on Feb. 24),” a senior official at the NPS told The Korea Herald.
Though Jun’s term was recently extended by one more year until December 2013, he has decided to resign before the Park Geun-hye administration takes office on Feb. 25, said the official.
Jun, who worked as the nation’s chief financial regulator from 2008 to 2009, has been heading the state-run pension fund since December 2009.
He played a significant role in improving the state fund’s finances and reputation at home and abroad. The body is the world’s fourth-largest pension fund with assets of about 400 trillion won ($368 billion).
The NPS saw its investment yield rise sharply in 2012 from a year earlier, apparently due to improved returns from stock investment.
The fund, which also took the position as the nation’s largest institutional investor, reported an investment return of 6.99 percent last year and brought in 24.9 trillion won, up 4.6 percentage points from the previous year.
It also saw its average stake in 10 major business groups’ subsidiaries, listed on the stock market, come to an all-time high of more than 4 percent.
The NPS, as a result, is expected to exercise its shareholder right in the conglomerate sector more actively, according to stock research analysts.
Jun’s resignation may affect other top financial executives whose appointments are influenced by the government.
So far this year, several high-ranking figures in the financial industry have offered to resign.
Among them are Financial Services Commission chairman Kim Seok-dong and Fair Trade Commission chairman Kim Dong-soo. Smile Microcredit Bank chairman Kim Seung-yu, who was a college classmate of President Lee, also joined the move.
The next steps of heads of Korea’s major financial groups are drawing wide attention. In particular, those of three figures that have been regarded as close confidants of President Lee Myung-bak.
The three chairmen are Euh Yoon-dae of KB Financial Group, Lee Pal-seung of Woori Financial Group and Kang Man-soo of KDB Financial Group.
In particular, the future of state-invested Woori Financial and the state-run KDB Financial could easily be swayed by the presidential office.
There is also speculation that Korea Exchange chairman Kim Bong-soo may resign or be replaced soon, although his term expires in December 2013.
By Kim Yon-se
<관련 한글 기사>국민연금 이사장 전광우, '용퇴 결심'
이명박 대통령의 퇴임과 더불어 국민연금공단의 수장도 교체된다.
국민연금 고위 관계자는 21일 전광우 국민연금 이사장이 오는 주말께 청와대에 사직서를 제출할 예정이라고 밝혔다.
지난 12월 임기가 만료된 전 이사장은 2013년 12월까지의 1년 연임에 성공한 바 있다. 그러나 박근혜 정부의 출범을 앞두고 용퇴를 결심한 것으로 전해졌다.
지난해 국민연금은 성장세를 이어갔다. 공단 측의 기금운용현황에 따르면 2012년 말 현재 자산이 392조원에 달했고 이는 전년 대비 12.4% 증가한 수치다.
전 이사장은 지난 2008년 금융위원장, 2001년부터 2004년까지 우리금융지주 부회장 등을 역임했다.
이에 앞서 김석동 금융위원장, 김동수 공정거래위원장, 김승유 미소금융중앙재단 이사장 등이 사의를 표명했다. (코리아헤럴드 김연세 기자)