Illinois Municipal hires private equity specialist

The $25bn pension system has named Dhvani Shah, head of private equity at the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System, as chief investment officer.

The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, with about $25 billion of assets, has named former New York State Teachers’ Retirement System head of private equity, Dhvani Shah, as chief investment officer overseeing the entire investment portfolio.

The appointment was announced earlier this week. She will start as CIO on 19 December, replacing Walt Koziol, who is retiring on 30 November.

Shah joined the New York State Teachers’ pension in 2009 from Bank of America, where she had worked as a vice president focusing on private equity investments. She was promoted in 2010 to managing director of private equity.

For now, all private equity investment decisions will run through the system's CIO, Tom Lee, according to a New York State Teachers' spokesperson. The system will initiate a search to replace Shah, the spokesperson said.

Illinois Municipal has a 6 percent target to alternative investments, which does not include real estate, a separate category. The pension system’s actual allocation stood at 3.9 percent as of 30 June, and the portfolio had a market value of about $1 billion.

Shah is one of several seasoned private equity professionals that have moved this year from established roles, where they had worked on building programmes, into new jobs. Wayne Smith, former head of private equity with the Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management Board, left his job earlier this way to join fund of funds Pathway Capital Management. Jim Treanor, head of private equity for the Florida State Board of Administration, also left his position earlier this year to take a job with institutional investor advisor Jeffrey Slocum & Associates to focus on hedge fund strategies.