Ohio BWC keeps portfolio data under wraps

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, as expected, has gone back on its threat to unveil portfolio-company data in a report issued today.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (Ohio BWC) decided to hold off on the release of sensitive portfolio-company information, although the pension did issue a report earlier today disclosing the performance of its private equity investments. The report has been posted on the pension’s Web site.

In December, the Ohio BWC unveiled plans to pull the cover off its private equity programme, saying that due to an open records request from The Columbus Dispatch and other news organisations, it would release a report detailing its private equity investments, complete with the underlying portfolio-company performance data. The pressure to release the information came in the aftermath of Coingate, a scandal that reportedly cost the pension almost $50 million in a rare-coin investment.

The decision not to include the portfolio-company data was the result of an overwhelming negative response from the private equity firms, and the other limited partners that invest alongside the Ohio BWC.

Jeremy Jackson, a spokesman at the pension plan, told PEO, “It wasn’t the public. The decision stems from the response we received from the private equity firms, their legal counsel and other investors in those firms. It gave us pause”.

However, Jackson did not rule out that the underlying portfolio company data could be released at a later date.

Carl Metzger, a partner in the Boston office of law firm Goodwin Procter, told PEO earlier this week that the reluctance to publicly disclose this level of information is based on the pension’s interpretation of Ohio’s trade-secret laws. In states such as California and Texas, portfolio-company data has been legally defined as a trade secret, and therefore not subject to state open-record disclosures.

The 24 page Ohio BWC report includes information on 68 private equity funds. Quad C Management, Smith Whiley, TCW/Crescent Mezzanine and The Carlyle Group were among the firms with some of the better performing funds in the report.

Most of the firms affected by the Ohio FOIA request have sent letters to the insurance group opposing portfolio company disclosure. Some have voiced strong opposition to the release of any part of the report, which was prepared by consulting group Ennis Knupp. Meztger, meanwhile, is an advisor to the National Venture Capital Association, which is also opposed to the disclosure of portfolio company data.