Canada Pension Plan Investment Board picked an internal candidate as its new private equity head, naming Suyi Kim, the pension fund’s top executive in Asia, to run the US$100 billion division.

Kim will lead a department that’s an active player in buyouts globally, both in direct investments and through funds run by Apollo Global Management Inc., KKR & Co. Inc. and other private equity firms. CPPIB’s private equity assets have grown more than fivefold in the past decade.

The appointment marks a key step in the reshaping of the team around Chief Executive Officer John Graham, who was given the top job in February when former CEO Mark Machin resigned after flying to United Arab Emirates to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, in defiance of government guidelines to avoid international travel.

Kim is already one of the most powerful women at the $497.2 billion (US$399 billion) Canadian pension fund, alongside Deborah Orida, its global head of real assets. Kim joined CPPIB in 2007 after working for more than 15 years at Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Carlyle Group Inc., and opened the pension fund’s Hong Kong office in 2008.

“Suyi’s background in private equity, extensive experience leading our Asia Pacific business and deep knowledge of the organization makes her ideally suited for this role, and demonstrates the depth of our leadership team,” Graham said in a statement.

CPPIB has been increasingly investing in private assets amid stretched valuations for stocks and bonds. It’s part of the consortium led by Fortress Investment Group that’s making a US$8.8 billion bid for Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc. The offer is opposed by the grocery chain’s largest shareholder.

Recently, it has also been involved in deals for Galileo Global Education, IT services company Virtusa and Brazilian real-estate startup Loft, the latter valued at US$2.2 billion.

CPPIB’s private-equity investments returned 36.6 per cent in the fiscal year ended March 31, generating a net income of C$34 billion, according to its annual report.

Kim, who starts the role Sept. 15, replaces Shane Feeney, who accepted an executive role at Toronto-based Northleaf Capital Partners Ltd. She will move to Toronto next spring, a CPPIB spokesperson said by email.