The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), the second largest pension fund in the UK, has hired Robin Filmer-Wilson as an investment manager to look after the pension fund’s private equity co-investments, according to a statement.
The appointment comes as the pension plan aims to increase its co-investment strategy. In 2012, the pension plan’s co-investment team completed seven equity and mezzanine transactions worth £200 million, which increased the total assets in the co-investment portfolio to £500 million.
USS declined to comment in detail on these co-investments; but in an email, Geoffrey Geiger, a senior investment manager for private equity co-investments at USS, said the list includes a mezzanine investment in the take-private of Douglas Holding by Advent International, with Park Square Capital.
“This addition underscores the commitment to the co-investment strategy, which enables us to scale exposure to specific transactions that best suit our investment objectives whilst reducing the overall cost of the private equity programme,” Mike Powell, head of alternatives assets at USS, said in the statement.
“USS has been growing its private equity and debt co-investment activity since 2010 (…) and this hire is to support and expand this effort,” Geiger added. Although USS is keen to do more co-investments, it has no plans to cut ties with traditional firms, he said. “We have no intention to compete with our private equity and debt fund managers for deals, our intention is to be their partner and provide them with additional capital to complete their deals,” Geiger said.
USS hasn’t done any co-investments in 2013, although it has “an interesting pipeline”, according to Geiger.
Filmer-Wilson joined USS at the end of 2012, after being an associate director at TCR Capital since 2005. Filmer-Wilson, who has been working in private equity for more than 14 years, also worked at Baring Private Equity in London and Paris and at Brown Brothers Harriman & Company in New York.
As of 31 March 2012, USS had approximately $9 billion committed to private equity and private debt. This includes co-investments, as well as exposure to leveraged buyouts, growth equity, distressed debt, special situations and senior and mezzanine debt through private equity funds and debt globally.