Schwartz Out In Shake-Up At TIAA-CREF

Sheryl Schwartz has stepped down from her position as the long-time head of alternative investments at TIAA-CREF, although officials said she still works for the giant money manager. The move comes as the private equity program she oversaw undergoes a reorganization.

Under Schwartz’s direction, TIAA-CREF became a major player in the private equity industry, with $10 billion committed to the industry by the time a profile of Schwartz ran in a December 2007 edition Buyouts. Schwartz, a regular speaker on the conference circuit, joined TIAA-CREF in 1988 and has held five different positions there, according to the 2007 profile. She previously worked in private debt placement and on the secondary trading desk. Schwartz could not be reached for comment.

The shake-up, which began earlier this month, involves the integration of the alternative investments group, which includes private equity, co-investments and timber, into the Portfolio Management division headed by Heather Davis and the Private Placement Investments division headed by Marina Mavrakis. TIAA-CREF’s private equity investments will be unaffected by the reorganization, and the company remains committed to the asset class, Abby Cohen, a spokesperson for the company, told Buyouts.

Cohen said in an email that the company reorganized the alternative investments group to “create more integrated and resourced teams able to focus on the entire range of investment opportunities in their respective categories.” Cohen added that she could not comment on what Schwartz’s new role is or will be, or if there would be any layoffs as a result of the reorganization.

At the time of the 2007 profile, Schwartz and the 10-professional group she led were steering the program away from large funds toward more mid-market funds; she also initiated commitments to turnaround funds, such as those managed by Littlejohn & Co. and Oaktree Capital Management. A February 2009 article in Buyouts suggested the firm planned to increase its exposure to U.S. buyout funds, while stemming its commitments to European and Asia-focused funds, which had been a focus in 2008. The firm, which typically committed about $1.5 billion to $2 billion to private equity funds annually, also planned to ratchet back its commitment pace in 2009.

TIAA-CREF, which manages assets of $426 billion, has also backed funds managed by The Blackstone Group, The Carlyle Group, Cerberus Capital Management, Clayton Dubilier & Rice, and TPG, as well as smaller market funds managed by Harvest Partners and Riverside Co.