LP briefs, week of July 7, 2008

TRS Illinois to spend big bucks on PE

The $38.7 billion Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Illinois intends to make commitments between $800 million to $1.2 billion to private equity investments during the fiscal year that started on July 1.

The Springfield-based limited partner has a long-term private equity allocation goal of 8%, which could be achieved as soon as next year. The state pension fund committed $1.37 billion to private equity during the previous fiscal year.

TRS Illinois will not change its existing exposure ranges to buyouts (60% to 80%), venture capital (10% to 25%) and special situations (5% to 20%). As of March 31, TRS Illinois had invested $2.2 billion in private equity, or 5.8% of its total portfolio.

TRS Illinois’ investment staff works with private equity consultant PCG Asset Management to identify potential investments.

TRS Illinois spokesperson Eva Goltermann says that although the state pension fund puts a premium on building its private equity portfolio with its core relationships, it will also seek commitments with new managers.

Private equity is one of TRS Illinois’ best-performing asset classes, with 23% returns over the one- and three-year periods ending March 31, and yielding just under a 20% return during the past 10 years. —Nancy Gordon

Altura opens access to new managers

Many limited partners have mandates to invest with emerging managers, but finding these firms can be difficult. And conversely, it can be challenging for small, new firms to catch the attention of large pension funds.

A new database created by New York-based Altura Capital Group should help resolve the dilemma. The Altura Emerging Manager Platform, which will be available in mid-August, aims to give institutional investors and small and emerging financial services firms the ability to collaborate and access research, information and market intelligence.

Altura Capital’s database contains about 130 private equity firms, but the number is growing as the firm adds new emerging managers, says Monika Mantilla, president and CEO of the firm, which specializes in providing institutional research and product solutions in the emerging manager category. Other asset classes included in the database are equities; fixed income; hedge funds; funds of hedge funds; REITs; broker dealers; and real estate partnerships.

Founding subscribers include the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, California State Teachers’ Retirement System, Comptroller of the City of New York and the Illinois Sate Board of Investments.

In 2006, CalSTRS and CalPERS commissioned Altura Capital to construct a database of emerging managers and other financial service providers. The purpose was to identify new investment talent, promote transparency and access to capital, and to form a better understanding of emerging investment firms.

“We asked her [Mantilla] for a Volkswagen and she gave us a Cadillac,” says Solange Fernandez Brooks, a CalSTRS investment officer, about the Altura Capital platform. —Nancy Gordon

Paul Capital expands in Asia and South America

New York-based secondaries specialist Paul Capital has expanded into emerging markets by opening offices in Hong Kong and São Paulo, Brazil, and by making three appointments to its secondaries team.

The firm chose Hong Kong because its first set of secondary opportunities there includes the acquisition of older Asian funds concentrated in the Chinese city, according to a company spokesperson. Paul Capital chose São Paulo because of the amount of capital that has been invested in Brazil, the fact that the country has a significant network of general partners and because the firm found the right person locally to open and run that office.

Paul Capital intends to expand its staff in both regions and will consider new offices as its business grows.

Duncan Littlejohn, a consultant to Paul Capital since 2007, joined the secondaries team as a managing director of the São Paulo office, the first dedicated private equity secondaries office in Latin America. He was previously a partner at Brazilian private equity firm BPE Investimentos and its predecessor, Brasilpar.

Lucian Wu

joined in April 2008 as managing director of the firm’s Asian office to lead secondary investments across Asia. He was previously a partner at Henderson Private Capital in Asia.

Jason Sambanju

joined in August 2007 as a director and opened the firm’s Hong Kong office. He is responsible for the sourcing and execution of secondary transactions within the Asia-Pacific region. Sambanju previously spent seven years with Symphony Capital Partners in Hong Kong. —Nancy Gordon