CalPERS senior executive seen as ‘instrumental’ to PE strategy resigns

  • Why is this important: Bourqui, hired as COIO in May, leaves just as new CIO gets started
  • CIO Meng: search for successor starts immediately
  • Bienvenue, longtime senior investment staffer, is acting COIO
  • Contact CalPERS: +1 888-225-7377

California Public Employees’ Retirement System’s chief operating investment officer, Elisabeth Bourqui, resigned Monday, after less than a year on the job, a CalPERS spokeswoman confirmed.

Bourqui, who had previously been head of pension assets and liabilities management at the Swedish-Swiss company ABB Group, began working for CalPERS in May 2018. At the time, her hiring was praised by then-CIO Ted Eliopoulos, who said Bourqui brought “a tremendous depth of global experience to CalPERS.”

Eliopoulos also said Bourqui would be essential to the implementation of a new business strategy in private equity, which CalPERS is moving ahead with during a period of leadership transition that includes a new CIO, new board members and a longstanding vacancy at the top of its private equity investment team.

“Elisabeth will strengthen our efforts to innovate, and to integrate business practices across our global investment platform. She will also be instrumental in the implementation of business strategies particularly in private equity and asset allocation,” Eliopoulos said in a statement at the time.

However, one source told Buyouts that Bourqui had been the senior manager who expressed the most concern about the risk in the new PE model.

New CIO Yu Ben Meng, who took the reins at the investment office just this month, informed CalPERS staff of the resignation in an email. He thanked Dan Bienvenue for agreeing to step into the role of acting COIO. Meng also said recruitment for a permanent COIO will begin immediately.

“Dan has been a strong leader in our investment office for more than 14 years overseeing more than $150 billion in global equity,” Meng wrote. “I’m confident that Dan has the skills and expertise to fulfill this role and partner with our investment office leadership team to execute our investment strategies.”

Bourqui replaced Wylie Tollette, who left CalPERS in December 2017 to rejoin Franklin Templeton.

Bourqui was not the only senior CalPERS official recently hired by CEO Marcie Frost who had a short tenure at the pension fund. Former CFO Charles Asubonten was hired in September 2017 and left about six months later, after questions were raised about apparent exaggerations in his resume about experience at a mining company and in private equity investing.

Frost has faced questions about her own resume, although CalPERS board members expressed support for her after she was accused of falsifying her educational background.

Action Item: Read more about CalPERS private equity here: https://bit.ly/1QToQLK