CalPERS replaces CIO

Mark Anson becomes chief investment officer for the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) following Daniel Szente’s resignation last month.

The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) has promoted Mark Anson to chief investment officer. He replaces Daniel Szente, who resigned last month over litigation involving the pay of its investment managers.

Prior to his promotion, Anson was a senior investment officer at CalPERS, responsible for the pension fund’s investments in domestic and foreign equities, hedge funds and its currency overlay program amounting to around 56 per cent of the group’s $151bn portfolio.

His promotion comes at an interesting time for CalPERS, which has developed a reputation for employing talented investment executives and rewarding them handsomely.

However the circumstances surrounding Szente’s resignation at the end of November have intensified the debate as to how talented investment personnel at the firm should be compensated.

Szente resigned over an ongoing legal battle launched by the California State Controller, Kathleen Connell, who claimed CalPERS’ practice of paying its staff more than other state employees was in conflict with California law. Connell had attempted to sue the pension fund in February 2001 for trying to circumvent state salary regulations by issuing its own payroll checks

Szente at the time of his departure described Connell’s intervention as an effort to undo investment portfolio manager compensation, saying that the environment that the litigation created gave him concerns about the effect on the pension’s investment operations.

CalPERS manages pension and health benefits for more than 1.2m California public employees, retirees, and their families. Its assets total $143.7bn.

The alternative investment team specialises in private equity investments, and currently has more than $14bn committed to international investments. The group is among the world’s most influential investors in private equity partnerships, and also made headlines earlier this year when it spent a total of $235m buying stakes in The Carlyle Group and Texas Pacific Group’s venture capital firm TPG Ventures.