LP briefs, week of March 10, 2008

Connecticut carves out new PE allocation

Looking to further diversify its investment portfolio, the Connecticut Retirement and Trust Funds has carved out a new asset class that includes hedge funds, private debt, timber and possibly infrastructure. The state pension fund will be able to commit up to 8%, or about $2 billion, of its $26 billion program to this new grouping of assets.

“We’re still getting our hands around it, but we needed some latitude to start to consider some of those asset classes and this was the easiest way to get that done,” says Jason Price, Connecticut’s private equity investment officer.

The LP has tapped New England Pension Consultant as the adviser. Connecticut already has active private equity and real estate programs, and Price says that the new asset class will not detract from those.

Connecticut has an overall private equity target allocation of 11 percent. Currently, about 6% of the portfolio, or $1.5 billion, is invested in the space. In 2008, the state will likely commit between $600 million and $700 million to private equity, a commitment pace Price says will help the investor reach the 11% target allocation in a few years.

New general partners shouldn’t get their hopes up, though. “We’re mostly interested in re-upping with our existing managers,” Price says. “Our portfolio is maturing to the point where we’re happy with our existing managers.”

However, Connecticut is looking at investing in new mega-buyout funds. The LP is also actively searching for a chief investment officer to replace Susan Sweeney, who left last year. —Joshua Payne

PaSERS earns healthy return in 2007

The Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System raked in more than $5.2 billion on its investment portfolio in 2007, the limited partner announced in late February. The $35 billion pension plan posted a 17.2% return, earning it a place among the top 5% of large U.S. public pension funds. The median return for large public pension plans in 2007 was 8.7%, according to the Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Survey.PaSERS’ long-term target allocation to private equity is 14 percent. As of Dec. 31, the state pension fund had committed just over 15% of its portfolio to the asset class. The LP currently has commitments to 208 buyout funds, including ABRY Partners V, APAX Europe VII, Asia Alternatives Capital Partners, Avenue Special Situations Fund V, Bain Capital Fund X , Blackstone Capital Partners V, Cerberus Institutional Partners Series IV, Hellman & Friedman Capital Partners VI, OCM Opportunities Fund VII and TPG Asia V. PaSERS also has commitments to 114 venture capital vehicles. —Joshua Payne

Garrison joins TCU

Keith Garrison has joined Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, as a managing director and head of alternative investments for the school’s $1.2 billion endowment, where he joins former colleague CIO James Hille. Garrison was head of managing director of external private markets at the $112 billion Teacher Retirement System of Texas in Austin, Texas.