MetLife poaches more PE talent from New Jersey pension

John Panebianco joins the PE team led by his former New Jersey colleague Jared Speicher, who joined MetLife last year to lead the US LBO portfolio.

Another private equity investment officer from New Jersey’s state pension system has moved over to MetLife as the system continues to search for new PE talent.

John Panebianco joined MetLife as an associate director on the private equity team, according to a source and his LinkedIn profile. Panebianco joined MetLife last year, his profile said. He focuses on sourcing and assessing fund investments across buyouts, venture capital, growth equity, energy, infrastructure and equity co-investments, his profile said.

Panebianco formerly worked for the New Jersey Division of Investment from 2016 to 2022 on the alternative investment team focusing on the private markets portfolio, his profile said. A MetLife spokesperson declined to comment.

He joins the PE team led by his former New Jersey colleague Jared Speicher, who joined MetLife last year to lead the US LBO portfolio, as well as working alongside the whole private equity team and managing the broader PE portfolio, Buyouts previously reported. Speicher worked for New Jersey since 2016, prior to which he worked as a director at Analytical Research.

MetLife last year closed a $1.6 billion fund-of-funds vehicle, transferring $1.2 billion of PE and VC stakes off its balance sheet, Secondaries Investor reported at the time. HarbourVest Partners was lead investor on the deal, which included funded and unfunded commitments and an additional $400 million of follow-on capital to make new fund commitments.

New Jersey’s $82.2 billion pension system has had a history of turnover in private equity, with many of its former asset class chiefs moving into the industry. Despite this, the system has steadily built up a large portfolio, which was valued at about $12 billion as of July, according to system documents.

The system has a 13 percent private equity target, with a 13.02 percent actual allocation as of September 30, 2022, according to Division of Investment documents.

The system now is running a search to hire a head of private equity and a head of credit, according to a spokesperson for the system. New Jersey has a residency requirement for state employees, the spokesperson said.