Performance Of Florida Portfolio Improving

I’m a sucker for that Konica Minolta bizhub commercial in which the “elder”—aka “he who speaks of floppy disks”—appears in the final seconds to berate his younger colleagues for having things too easy. (”You’re all soft,” he informs them.)

Pretty soon I’m going to become known around my office as “he who speaks of FOIA requests for private equity return data.” That used to be the only way to secure them from many pension funds, and that’s if you were lucky. Now it seems like almost every few weeks another public pension fund is making things easy for us by posting its return data online, although often buried toward the back of a lengthy report. The latest batch comes from the State Board of Administration of Florida, whose alternative investment program spans at least two decades.

The performance of the $5.6 billion buyout-heavy portfolio has not, overall, been stellar, although the board has had more success over the last decade than it had in the one prior. A spokesman for the board, which managed $128.5 billion in assets as of June 30, e-mailed a chart showing that over the last 10 years the post-1999 portion of the portfolio, with a 12.83 percent return, has outperformed, on a time-weighted basis, its benchmark, the Russell 3000 plus 300 basis points, which returned 8.03 percent over the period.

Still, the overall IRR for the 108-fund private equity portfolio (excluding a handful of funds that are less than a year old) is an unremarkable 7.5 percent, according to a report prepared by Hewitt EnnisKnupp for a late September meeting of the board’s investment advisory council. Fully one-quarter of those 108 funds are showing a negative IRR on paper; to make the top quartile requires an IRR of 14.1 percent, while the median is 5.4 percent.

Some other observations based on materials prepared for the investment advisory council:

•Except for its first two funds, Liberty Partners of New York has performed relatively poorly on a series of captive middle-market buyout funds for the state. The spokesman said it’s been reported that the state is looking to wind down the relationship. The person who answered the phone at Liberty Partners said the firm does not comment to the press on the Florida program. Florida committed more than $2 billion to Liberty Partners in a relationship that dates back more than 17 years. The St. Petersburg Times ran an exposé on the partnership last fall.

•The state is looking to obtain “strategic advice” on its $600 million legacy portfolio of pre-2000 funds, suggesting it may be prepared to sell all or parts of it on the secondary market.

•Florida expects to move ahead with a ”new tranche of our successful co-investment partnership with Lexington Partners.”

•The state is also “exploring expanding venture capital and growth capital investments.”

Below are the top 10-performing funds in the Florida portfolio: