Sidelined Irish Pension Fund Reviews Allocation

Ireland’s National Pensions Reserve Fund is reviewing its private equity asset allocation strategy, with an eye toward announcing any changes this June.

The €22 billion ($30 billion) pension fund’s current target allocation to private equity stands at 8 percent, with an additional 2 percent allocated to infrastructure fund commitments. Actual private equity fund asset allocation as of Sept. 30, 2009 was €512 million ($690.5 million), just 2.4 percent of the limited partners’s total net assets of €20.9 billion. Despite being well under its target, NPRF did not make any fund commitments during 2009, according to alternative asset data provider Preqin.

NPRF’s private equity portfolio is diversified by both investment type and region. On a commitment basis, the portfolio is split 67 percent to buyout funds, 13 percent to venture capital funds and 20 percent to fund managers specializing in other investment categories (including special situations funds, distressed debt and turnaround vehicles).

By geography, the portfolio has an equal United States-European split, and divvies up its capital among five major groups: global funds, U.S.-only funds, U.S. and European funds, pan-European funds and Irish funds. At the end of 2008, NPRF had commitments to 39 private equity investment vehicles managed by 26 firms.

U.S. buyout funds the pension fund has committed to include Jordan Resolute II (€69 million commitment); Madison Dearborn Capital Partners V (€65 million) and New Mountain Partners III (€69 million). U.S. and European buyout-focused funds include Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Fund VII (€67 million); Clayton, Dubilier and Rice VII Co-investment Fund (€22 million); Fortress Investment Fund V (€44 million); Fortress Investment Fund V Co-Investment Fund (€24 million); Hellman & Friedman VI (€52 million); Providence Equity Partners VI (€70 million) and Vestar Capital Partners Fund V (€25 million).

The private equity team is led by Nick Ashmore, who is responsible for managing buyout, venture capital, other private equity and infrastructure fund commitments globally. Before joining the NPRF, Ashmore was an investment manager with Greenaap Consultants Limited, a private family office, based in Dublin.

The NPRF was established in April 2001 to build up assets that would help finance the costs of Ireland’s social welfare and public service pensions from 2025 onwards when these costs are projected to increase dramatically. The fund is managed by the National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission.

Since the fund’s inception in 2001, the investment portfolio has delivered an annualized return of 2.6 percent per annum. As of Dec. 31, 2009, the total fund’s value stood at €22.3 billion.