Texas Teachers mulls Singapore office

The Austin-based pension fund is seeking better regional coverage of Asia and Australia.

Teacher Retirement System of Texas is considering setting up an office in Singapore, its first in Asia and third outpost after Austin and London.

Private Equity International understands that the $151 billion pension fund will be finalising plans with its board of trustees and with the Texas legislature in the coming weeks.

“We believe that having a local presence, rather than being 20-plus hours away by plane, will provide us with better regional coverage of Asia, India, and Australia and puts us in a better position to build relationships and successfully compete for opportunities,” a spokeswoman for the fund told PEI.

“A local presence could also increase our exposure to private market opportunities and have the potential to generate millions in savings,” she added.

If the fund moves forward with an office in Asia, it will focus first on public market investments, and then move into private markets as it build its relationships in the region, PEI understands.

Asia-Pacific investments account for 15 percent or $22 billion of TRS’s investment portfolio. The pension has a 13 percent allocation to private equity that stands at 12 percent, according to PEI data.

Jerry Albright, TRS chief investment officer, has proposed adopting a Canadian pension strategy – managing investments internally –  in the future. In line with this move, Albright is asking for 120 new hires in his growth plan over the next five years. The pension may hire fewer, according to discussions at the TRS February board meeting.

Its private investments are split between 20 percent directs, which TRS refers to as principal investments, and 80 percent through external managers.

Its recent fund commitments include $100 million to Lightspeed Venture Partners Select III, $100 million to Permira Growth Opportunities I, $61 million to Leonard Green & Partners’ Shingle Coinvest and $25 million to KKR Omega Co-Invest.

North American pension funds with a presence in Singapore include Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System.

News of the Asia office was first broken by AsianInvestor.