NYC pensions bet $455m on PE

Three of NYC’s five pensions have committed more than $450m across seven funds, according to documents available through the city’s online library.

As part of its recent effort to become more transparent, the New York City Comptroller’s Office has released investment meeting agenda’s for three of the city’s five public pensions, revealing private equity commitments totaling at least $455 million over the last nine months.

The $120 billion pension system, which includes the New York City Fire Pension Fund, the New York City Police Public Pension and the Teachers’ Retirement System of the City of New York, has a 6.2 percent allocation to private equity at 30 June, according to the comptroller’s website.

Teachers’, which is advised by Hamilton Lane, allocated the most to asset class. The retirement system committed $280 million across EQT Partners Fund VI, BC Partners European IX, AXA Secondary Fund V and Pegasus Partners V.

NYC Fire made smaller commitments, totaling $85 million, to the same four funds. The police department’s public pension fund committed a total of $90 million to Wellspring V, The Blackstone Group VI, Ampersand Capital Partners’ 2011 fund and Black Diamond Capital Management III.

Curiously, the web site has not included agendas from any of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System investment meetings. NYCERS, the second largest of New York City’s pensions, holds more than 40 percent of the system’s private equity holdings, which total $7.4 billion as of 30 June, according to the comptroller’s website.

New York City Comptroller John Liu launched the “Pension NYC” programme in March, featuring an online library and FAQ page on the office’s website. The site also provides webcasts for the investment meetings, and is expected to add a feature that will track pension fund spending and real-time data on investments and performance by the end of the year.

However, transparency has its limits. Earlier this month, Liu declined to disclose details on $32 million in “organisational” pension fees paid to private equity and real estate managers. In NYCERS’s 2010 report, the pension reported $28 million in organisational expenses for private equity investments and $3 million for real estate.