New York pension backs venture funds

The fund has earmarked $80m for three venture funds, including two re-ups and one new relationship.

The $153.9 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund (CRF) committed $80 million to venture capital funds in October, including a first-time commitment to Israeli venture firm Jerusalem Venture Partners.

CRF committed $25 million to Ascent Biomedical Ventures NY II and $45 million to Aisling Capital Partners III, both of which are existing relationships for the scheme, having invested in the two funds’ predecessors.

Ascent Biomedical Ventures NY II will target seed and early-stage biomedical technology investments and falls under New York’s In-State Private Equity Program, which was created in 1999 to expand the capital available to New York-based businesses. Aisling Capital is a life sciences-focused venture firm whose previous fund closed on $550 million in January 2006.

CRF will also invest $10 million with Jerusalem Venture Partners Media V. The Jerusalem- and New York-based JVP Venture Partners held a first close on the fund in October, having raised $100 million towards its $150 million target.

The commitments come at the same time as the CRF’s termination of around $2.3 billion of public equity funds.

In October CRF deputy chief investment officer Nick Smirensky stepped down to head the New York State Health foundation’s $300 million investment portfolio. Smirensky had been responsible for CRF’s $13 billion private equity programme and had worked for CRF since 1993.