LP corner, week of March 30, 2009

NY Teachers fills PE post

Dhvani Shah

, a former vice president at Bank of America in Chicago, joined the $75 billion New York State Teachers Retirement System last week as the manager of private equity.

The position opened up in July when David Felix left. Shah will oversee 58 general partner relationships and more than 100 different funds in NYSTRS’s private equity program, with commitments totaling about $11 billion. The investor, which invests in buyout, venture capital, international and special situation funds, has a target allocation to the asset class of 5%, with a range between 2% and 10 percent.

The hiring of Shah in New York leaves at least six top private equity positions still unfilled nationwide.

Openings include the director of the private equity program for the California State Teachers’ Retirement System; principal investment officer of private equity at Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds; senior private equity manager at Harvard Management Co.; senior alternative investments officer at Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System; director of private equity at New York State Common Retirement Fund; and deputy director of investments at Ohio Public Employees’ Retirement System. —Nancy Gordon

Montgomery County sets initial 2009 pledge pace

The $2.6 billion Montgomery County Employee Retirement Plans in Maryland is targeting a total commitment of $50 million to $70 million to private equity in 2009, although the board intends to re-evaluate the commitment pace later this year.

The limited partner started committing to private equity in 2003. About two-thirds of its investments are in buyout funds, with most of the remainder in venture funds, and a small amount in special situations and distressed/mezzanine vehicles.

In 2008, the county pension fund committed $30 million to Adams Street Partners’ global fund of funds and $25 million to Pomona Capital’s secondary fund of funds. —Nancy Gordon

Maine picks PE consultant, exec director

The Maine Public Employees Retirement System has hired Marina del Rey, Calif.-based Cliffwater as its private equity consultant, according to Andrew Sawyer, CIO of the state pension fund.

Sawyer added that Maine’s investment pace and allocation are still being discussed. The limited partner is also looking into buying on the secondary market, for which it “might still have some appetite,” said Sawyer, who joined the LP a year ago and created the private equity program.

In other news, the state pension fund chose Sandra Matheson as the system’s new executive director. She starts on April 1. Since 2005, Matheson has served as director of the State of Washington’s Department of Retirement Systems and a board member of the Washington State Investment Board. She replaces Gail Drake Wright, who retired in February. —Nancy Gordon

LP panelists split at Buyouts East if they would back an emerging fund

At the 21st annual Buyouts East conference held last week the Grand Hyatt in New York, panelists were split when asked if they would back a first-time fund this year.

Barry Gonder, Grove Street Advisors: “Maybe. If it were a spin-out of a top tier manager who teamed up with some serial entrepreneurs, or a top-decile manager.”

Kevin Kester, Siguler Guff: “Maybe. We have in the past, so if it is within our funds of funds strategies, such as a distressed vehicle. Then the answer is, ‘”Yes.’”

Bill Walsh, Portfolio Advisors: “Yes, we will probably do one or two. The host of those will be done through secondary deals, though.”

Charlie Van Horne, Abbot Capital: “No, unless it was a spin-out.” —Erin Griffith