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In brief: South Korean insurer mulls impact commitments

ESG is given little consideration among South Korean investors, says a senior exec at Hyundai Marine & Fire Insurance, but the $35bn insurer is 'really interested in the impact side'.

Innchul Oh Hyundai Marine Fire Insurance
Innchul Oh, senior manager for private equity at HDMF

Hyundai Marine & Fire Insurance, the 43.3 trillion won ($34.7 billion; €31.6 billion) insurer, is mulling entry into the impact investing space, according to one of its senior executives.

In a wide-ranging conversation with affiliate title Private Equity International, Innchul Oh, a senior manager for private equity at HDMF, discussed ESG in Asia as well as the firm’s appetite for sustainability-focused private markets strategies.

“In our Korean investor circumstances, almost every institution does not have any items about evaluating ESG, so we do not consider much about the ESG issues,” Oh noted. “But for example, some deals related to war or gambling… we do not want to invest in.”

The insurer has a 25 percent allocation to alternatives – half in real estate and the other half split between private equity and infrastructure – Oh said.

ESG is an area in which Asia-Pacific institutions are broadly at a more nascent stage compared with Western counterparts. For example, according to Dechert and Mergermarket’s 2022 Global Private Equity Outlook, some 60 percent of North American respondents and 49 percent of EMEA respondents expect a significant increase in LP scrutiny of ESG issues and reporting in deals over the next three years, versus just 20 percent of APAC respondents.

Like many investors globally, however, HDMF is toying with the idea of participating via a dedicated ESG or impact fund strategy.

“In my case, I forecast to focus more about topics such as impact or the venture or ESG themes,” Oh said. “I’m really interested in the impact side. Frankly speaking, we don’t have any exposure… but I think I want to invest.”

Innchul Oh will be speaking at affiliate title Private Debt Investor’s APAC Forum 2022 in Singapore on 13 April