Changing faces

Fund managers may need to spend time rekindling relationships with some key US public pensions, many of which have new faces at the top.

As general partners gear up for a year of fundraising, they may need to plan for time to get acquainted with some new key personnel at various US public pensions.

Longtime private equity investor the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System recently hired the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s deputy chief investment officer Anthony Clark as its chief investment officer.

Clark replaces former CIO John Winchester. PA SERS found itself heavily over-allocated to private equity over the past year and earlier this year cut its long-term allocation target to the asset class to 15 percent from 24.5 percent. It remains to be seen how Clark will handle the pension’s over-weight exposure to private equity.

Meanwhile the nearly $70 billion North Carolina Retirement System, which has a newer private equity programme, hired Shawn Wischmeier as its chief investment officer from the Indiana Public Employees’ Retirement Fund, which had a 10 percent private equity allocation. Wischmeier replaced Patricia Gerrick, who was fired last August. No official reason was given for Gerrick’s termination.

New faces are also expected to be revealed this year at the US’ largest public pension, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. Senior portfolio manager Joncarlo Mark resigned in January after spending more than a decade working with the pension’s massive private equity portfolio.

Mark was part of a team responsible for investing in private equity partnerships and direct investments while monitoring a portfolio that exceeded $50 billion of invested and committed capital.

It’s not clear why Mark resigned his post, though sources have speculated that Mark left after being passed over for the vacant role heading up private equity at CalPERS. That role was left empty after the former head, Leon Shahinian, left the pension last year after failing to disclose an allegedly lavish trip paid for by Alfred Villalobos, a placement agent who once served on CalPERS’ board.