CoPERA, CPPIB Lose Key Execs –

Two large North American pension funds have lost the executives in charge of their private equity programs.

Kevin Kester, who has spent the past seven years as the director of alternative investments for The Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association (CoPERA), resigned effective Dec. 12. He leaves behind a $2.7 billion private equity portfolio that represents about 10% of all CoPERA assets.

Meanwhile, Mark Weisdorf has resigned as vice president of private market investments for the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) effective Dec. 5. CPPIB entered the private equity market soon after Weisdorf came on board two years ago. Weisdorf was the principal architect of CPPIB’s private equity strategy.

Kester’s new gig will be as vice president of capital markets at The Broe Cos., where he’ll help the self-funded investment firm develop new sources of capital.

“They may raise an outside fund,” Kester says. “They want to have that capability. The bottom line is that Broe needs to grow its asset base and it will need to tap fresh sources to do that. I look forward to being on the other side of the fund-raising fence.”

It is unknown who will replace Kester, although his successor’s immediate challenge may be reducing CoPERA’s overexposure to private equity. The $27 billion pension system’s PE allocation targets have historically fluctuated from as high as 12% to as low as 3%, but the current plan is to reduce to it allocation from 10% to around eight percent. This doesn’t mean that CoPERA isn’t making new investments, but just that it is willing to part ways with existing GPs who CoPERA feels are no longer worthy of additional investments.

CoPERA is currently advertising for a new director of alternative investments, and expects to consider both internal and external candidates. A final decision is expected in January.

Separately, CPPIB cited differences in management philosophy as the reason for Weisdorf’s resignation. A spokesman said the organization – which has to date invested $5.3 billion in 34 private equity funds – remains committed to private equity. The spokesman said CPPIB will be looking to replace Weisdorf, but he could not confirm by press time how that search would be conducted.