Illinois Teachers’ fund pledges $50 mln to JMI Equity

  • Illinois Teachers hikes emerging manager program by $250 million
  • System sets $75 million for Black River 
  • Pension system commits to early-stage venture fund

The pension fund is deepening its relationship with Baltimore and San Diego-based JMI Equity, which has been managing about $14 million in retirement assets for the pension system.

JMI Equity raised $875 million in commitments for the vintage 2011 JMI Equity Fund VII and $600 million for JMI Equity Fund VI LP in 2007. If JMI continues to grow its investment pools at a similar percentage rate, Fund VIII’s target could approach $1.3 billion. 

In an interview with Buyouts last year, Paul Barber, managing general partner of JMI Equity, said the firm specializes in equity investments from $20 million to $100 million.

“We look for high growth markets and companies with differentiated technology, then structure investments to achieve the owners’ objectives,” he said in the interview.

In separate moves, the Illinois teachers’ pension approved a $75 million commitment to Black River Asset Management Food Fund II, a unit of Cargill’s Black River investment arm. Gary Jarrett, a long-time Cargill executive, serves as managing principal and chief executive officer of Black River, a specialist in fixed income, equity markets, emerging markets, and commodity-related trading and investing around the globe. Black River currently manages about $150 million for the retirement system.

The Illinois teachers also pledged $20 million to Shasta Ventures Fund IV from Shasta Ventures, a Menlo Park, California, boutique, early-stage venture firm  currently investing its third fund in enterprise and consumer technology startups. Shasta already manages about $28 million for the pension system.

Across all asset classes, the Teachers’ Retirement System of Illinois made $1 billion in new investments during fiscal 2014 with minority and women-owned firms, according to a statement from the pension fund last month.

The pension system increased the assets committed to its emerging manager program to $750 million from $500 million. “This program is designed to  help grow and develop newer investment managers,” the pension system said.

Ranked as the 39th largest pension system in the United States, the Teachers’ Retirement System of Illinois has 390,000 members.