Texas Teachers appoints alternatives head

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas has hired former Summit Properties president Steve LeBlanc to lead its real asset and private equity portfolios. Lee Partridge, the pension's strategic research managing director has been promoted to deputy chief investment officer.

The $96 billion Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) has appointed former Summit Steve LeBlanc to lead its real assets and private equity portfolio.

The pension fund, which has 2.7 percent of its fund invested in real estate against a target for 2008 of four percent, also promoted the fund’s strategic research managing director Lee Partridge to deputy chief investment officer, who will be in charge of strategic research, risk management, external managers, hedge funds and trading.

He will be replaced by former Principal Global Investors executive Dr. Nigel Lewis. Lewis was involved in strategy and risk management at the asset management company.

LeBlanc joins TRS as senior managing director of private markets in charge of real assets, private equity and the fund’s principal investment portfolios. He was previously president and chief executive officer of the apartment REIT Summit Properties and has also worked for Urban Growth Property Trust and Archstone Communities Trust.

Last year, TRS made a big push into alternatives approving long-term target allocations to both real estate and private equity of 10 percent.

The pension’s private equity investments totaled $5.8 billion or 5.4 percent of the fund’s assets, as of the end of June this year. Private equity was overweighted compared to its 2008 target of five percent. The 2009 target is seven percent.

The fund’s real estate portfolio was valued at $2.9 billion as of the end of June this year, with the asset class underweighted compared to its target allocation of four percent for 2008. The pension’s 2009 target for real estate is five percent.

TRS executive director Ronnie Jung said the pension’s new investment policy provided for a more diversified fund adding in a statement: “[It places] a greater emphasis on alternative investments and the proactive use of risk management principles for both public and private market investments.”