Ohio Bureau May Re-Instate PE In Its Portfolio

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation may re-launch its private equity program after selling off its entire portfolio on the secondary market earlier this year as the result of an investment scandal, according to board documents.

March board documents show that CIO Bruce Dunn favors adding an asset allocation of 2.5 percent each to private equity and private real estate over a mix that excludes them because he agrees with a recent study showing private equity offers high return potential, and real estate offers good return potential and protection against inflation. The previous allocation to private equity was 3 percent.

Similarly, an asset-liability study presented in March 2009, according to board documents, suggests a 5 percent allocation to alternatives (2.5 percent each to private equity and real estate) would provide a higher rate of return and lower standard deviation of expected returns than other mixes in the study. Between January and June of 2010, Mercer Investment Consulting is expected to educate the board further about alternative asset classes.

In March 2009, the bureau finalized its $400 million secondary sale of its private equity investment portfolio, comprised of 67 funds, including ones managed by The Carlyle Group, Castle Harlan, HarbourVest Partners, Lexington Partners, Invesco Private Capital and Wind Point Partners. In 2005, the LP hired advisory firm Ennis Knupp & Associates to review the valuations of all its private equity fund investments after a political scandal known as “Coingate,” in which Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation money was lost in a rare coins investment scheme. Although no private equity firms were accused of being involved in the fiasco, the review showed that the LP had not property audited its fund managers’ performance reports, and the entire private equity portfolio was sold on the secondary market.

Ohio’s $19 billion workers’ compensation system provides medical and compensation benefits for work-related injuries, diseases and deaths, and insures two-thirds of the state’s work force.