NORTH AMERICA IN BRIEF

ILLINOIS RAISES PRIVATE EQUITY TARGET
The Teachers' Retirement System of Illinois recently committed $175 million to private equity funds and raised its target allocation to the asset class from 8 percent to 10 percent in response to having been over-weighted. The pension, with total assets of $27.2 billion, has committed $25 million to Clearlake Capital Partners II and $50 million to Energy Capital Partners II.

LEEDS REACHES $450M
Leeds Equity Partners has collected $450 million on its way to a $1 billion target for its fifth fund seeking mid-market investments in the education and training sector. The firm has also named former US Secretary of State Colin Powell as chairman of its advisory board. Leeds's fourth fund closed on $430 million in 2003.

SECONDARIES MARKET SLOWS
Activity in the secondaries market has slowed in 2009 as potential sellers of fund interests appear reluctant to go to market with discounts to NAV as deep as 60 percent and buyers waiting on the sidelines for better quality assets. There was about $20 billion worth of secondaries activity last year, compared with around $2 billion so far in 2009, according to Ian Charles, a principal with secondaries firm Landmark Partners.

US AGENCY DELAYS COMMITMENTS
The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC), which funds the pensions of bankrupt companies, has delayed its move into private equity investing while US Congress investigates the potential mis-behaviour of former director Charles Millard during the manager selection process. PBGC chose BlackRock, JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs to manage $2.5 billion for private equity and real estate.

VERSA CAPITAL CLOSES FUND
Versa Capital Management has closed its second fund on $650 million for investments in distressed, turnaround and special situations in the mid-market. The firm, which closed its first fund in 2005 on $300 million, has surpassed its original target of $600 million. Fundraising took about a year.

CALPERS STAFF URGE BIGGER ALLOCATION
Investment staff at the $180 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System have recommended that it raise its target allocation to private equity from 10 percent to 14 percent. The pension currently has 11.7 percent of its assets, or $21 billion, invested in the asset class.

KKR, FIDELITY SIGN DISTRIBUTION DEAL
New York-based alternatives giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) has entered into an agreement with one of the world's largest retail fund management groups, Fidelity Investments, to give retail investors access to initial public offerings (IPOs) of KKR portfolio companies. Fidelity's retail and institutional customers will have exclusive access to shares allocated to KKR in all US-based public offerings for which KKR Capital Markets is acting as underwriter.

JPMORGAN UNIT RESTRUCTURES
JPMorgan is reportedly shutting the hedge fund and private equity business of its principal investment management group. Private Capital Asia, an Asia-focused private equity division within the group, and a division which makes mezzanine investments will be merged with JPMorgan's emerging markets global special opportunities business, while One Equity Partners, a separate private equity unit of the bank, is unaffected.

WELSH CARSON BEATS TARGET
Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe has closed its 11th buyout fund with $3.7 billion in commitments, passing its target of $3.5 billion. Fund XI has been marketed since the second quarter of 2008 and was almost fully raised by September.

APOLLO RAISING PROPERTY FUND
New York-based private equity firm Apollo Global Management has assembled a core real estate team from companies including Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs and Barclays Capital ahead of raising an opportunistic property fund later this year. The two most senior US real estate professionals on the team are Scott Weiner and Ken Picache.

FAILED BANK IN GPS' HANDS
A consortium of private equity firms and coinvestors have backed a $900 million buyout of Florida-based BankUnited, the largest independent bank in Florida and the largest US bank to fail this year. The Blackstone Group, The Carlyle Group, Centerbridge Partners and WL Ross have joined institutional co-investors like UK-based charity The Wellcome Trust for the acquisition.