Rhode Island Studies Whether To Up PE Allocation

The state investment commission that invests on behalf of the $8 billion Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island is mulling a boost to its private equity allocation, which currently sits at 7 percent.

The idea of raising the private equity allocation arose in March, when the commission was discussing re-upping to Nordic Capital’s latest fund and wanted to make a larger commitment than the $23 million proposed by Michelle Davidson, the LP’s contact at advisory shop PCG Asset Management.

Commission member Michael Costello suggested that its consulting group work on a strategy to address this issue, which has been an ongoing concern. The commission decided that one of the priorities of its newly reconfigured consulting group would be to review the asset allocation strategy, with the allocation to private equity considered as part of this exercise, said Mark A. Dingley, chief of staff.

Under its new consultant structure responsibilities are divided among three firms, a change designed to allow consultants more interaction with the investment committee and staff at a lower cost. Pension Consulting Alliance serves as a general policy and asset-allocation consultant; Russell Investment Group serves as the implementation manager; and Brockhouse Cooper serves as a manager search consultant on an assignment basis.

Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island makes 10 to 12 pledges per year to private equity, ranging from $10 million to $30 million each. The pension fund has a 10-year investment history with Nordic Capital. Commitments to the prior three funds totaled about $43 million, with net returns of 31.6 percent, or more than two times invested capital, according to a commission document.