LP corner, week of June 1, 2009

CPPIB assets shrink

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board announced late last month that the value of its assets under management shrank 14% in fiscal 2009, which ended March 31.

The CPP Investment Board, which manages Canada’s national pension fund, said it had assets of about $95 billion for fiscal year 2009, down $15 billion from fiscal 2008 assets.

The fund’s decline for the year primarily reflects an investment return of negative 18.62%, the CPP Investment Board said in a statement.

CEO David Denison said that the fund’s losses were linked to declines in equity markets, both public and private.

“Clearly fiscal 2009 was an extremely difficult year for the fund that we manage,” Denison said on a conference call after results were released. —Pav Jordan, Reuters

Lehigh commits $14M in ’09

Lehigh University’s $870 million endowment fund has committed $14 million combined to two private equity funds so far this year, although the limited partner declined to name them.

The endowment’s current allocation to private equity is about 9 percent. Last year, the LP raised its private equity target allocation from 3% to 15%, with a range of 5% to 20 percent.

Lehigh University anticipates reaching its goal for the asset class within the next five years, but has no target amount to invest per year, says CIO Peter Gilbert. The university’s investments in private equity are opportunistic, depending on the fund-raising cycles of managers and its own ability to gain access to targeted high-quality managers.

“We are pretty happy with [our] manager relationships right now,” Gilbert says.

Lehigh University has previously backed HarbourVest Partners’ generalist buyout fund, HarbourVest International Private Equity Partners III-Direct, and in biotech-focused fund managed by MBW Management Inc.

Gilbert joined Lehigh as the endowment’s first CIO in August 2007, after running investments for the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System for 14 years.

At PennSERS, he assembled the largest hedge fund portfolio of any state retirement system. Before that, Gilbert was director of the Mayor’s Pension Unit in the City of New York’s Department of Finance from 1990 to 1993, and he previously worked for a decade in the City of New York’s Office of the Comptroller.

As of June 30, 2008, Lehigh ranked 65th in endowment size among 791 institutions, up from 72nd in 2007 among 785 institutions, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers.—Nancy Gordon