North Carolina CIO resigns after five years

Patricia Gerrick has resigned after driving the state pension exposure to real estate and private equity to 5%, respectively.

The chief investment officer of the $60.2 billion North Carolina Retirement Systems has resigned after five years for undisclosed reasons.

Patricia Gerrick was instrumental in developing the pension’s alternatives programme, which saw the fund build its real estate and private equity allocations to around 5 percent, respectively.

Michael Williamson, the retirement systems’ director, will act as interim chief investment officer while a replacement is found, the public pension plan said in an emailed statement. Stephen Cummings, currently chief executive officer of consultancy EnnisKnupp, will act as an interim investment advisor to Williamson and the pension’s investment arm. No reasons were given for Gerrick’s resignation.

State Treasurer Janet Cowell said she “appreciate[d] Gerrick’s service to the State of North Carolina and to the over 800,000 members that depend on the pension system. I am confident that the fund is in good hands during this transition.”

The North Carolina pension plan lost 14.2 percent – or $17.7 billion – of its value in the year to the end of June this year, falling to a low of $54.6 billion in March before rebounding to $60.2 billion by June.

The state’s alternatives and real estate portfolios reported declines of 21.2 percent and 31.4 percent respectively.

North Carolina’s real estate portfolio grew from 1.9 percent in 2001 to 5.8 percent as of the end of the 2008 fiscal year, according to the 2007-2008 annual investment report. A majority of the pension’s investments were in closed-ended limited partnerships, including with DRA Advisors, Westbrook Partners, RLJ, Shorenstein Properties, DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners, Rockpoint Group and Rockwood Capital.

The pension’s alternatives portfolio comprises private equity and hedge fund investments, with fund managers including Aurora Funds, DLJ, Highland Capital, Harvest Partners, Pappas Capital Advisors, KRG Capital Partners, Terra Firma Capital Partners and TPG among others. The alternatives portfolio, started in 2001, grew to 4.8 percent of total allocations as of the end of the 2008 fiscal year.