LP Briefs, June 2009

Ohio Halves Pace

The Ohio Public Employees’ Retirement System anticipates that its private equity fund commitments will be down significantly in 2009.

After committing $894 million to private equity last year, and the state pension fund expected to pledge $1.2 billion this year. But the prolonged economic downturn has caused it to revise that commitment goal to a range of $400 million to $500 million in 2009, said Louis Darmstadter, private equity portfolio manager for OPERS.

So far this year, OPERS has made only one commitment—a $180 million pledge to mega-fund Hellman & Friedman Capital Partners VII. Other slugs will likely go to venture, buyout, distressed and secondary funds, Darmstadter says. “The bias is, of course, to buyout, both domestic and international,” he adds.

Private equity accounted for 4.9% of OPERS’ portfolio as of Dec. 31.

In other news, OPERS continues its search for a deputy director of investments to oversee private equity, private real estate and external public markets. Greg Uebele, the former head of alternative asset investments, left about a year ago to head private equity investments at Boeing. —Nancy Gordon

New York Common Pledges to VC

The $120 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, which is embroiled in an ongoing pay-to-play probe, recently made two private equity pledges totaling $125 million.

The LP committed $25 million to New York-based DFJ Gotham Ventures for its second fund, which is targeted at $125 million. This is a new relationship for the pension fund. DFJ Gotham invests in early stage tech companies in the Northeast United States and Israel. Other backers of DFJ Gotham Fund II include funds of funds CS Strategic Partners IV VC Holdings and Lehman Brothers Custom Fund A.

Meanwhile, New York Common committed $100 million to the PCGI/NYSCRF Emerging Europe Investment Program, which is managed by Washington, D.C.-based funds of funds manager PCGI. —Nancy Gordon

San Bernardino Commits to Three

The $4.6 billion San Bernardino County Employees’ Retirement Association has made pledges totaling $90 million to secondary and distressed private equity funds.

At its April meeting, the LP committed $30 million to Partners Group AG, a Swiss funds-of-funds manager, for its Partners Group Secondary Fund, which will be used for secondary investments in Europe, the United States and Asia; $40 million to Marathon Asset Management for its International Credit Opportunity Fund, which invests in distressed securities and special situations; and $20 million to Alcentra Group for its Global Special Situations Fund for distressed investments in Europe and North America.

Although San Bernardino County’s actual allocation to private equity stood at 19.8% as of Dec. 31, the limited partner plans to keep pledging to private equity this year, according to investment officer James Perry. Perry didn’t offer a ballpark figure for the amount to be committed, but he says that the LP is still finding interesting opportunities in the distressed and secondary sectors. —Nancy Gordon

Nevada May Pledge $300M

The $18 billion Nevada Public Employees’ Retirement System will likely commit between $200 million and $300 million to private equity this year, according to Ken Lambert, a member of the pension fund’s executive staff.

The state pension fund typically commits to venture capital, buyouts and distressed funds.

In the past, Nevada has backed investment vehicles managed by European buyout shop CVC Capital Partners; mid-market buyout firm GTCR Golder Rauner; mega-firms Madison Dearborn Partners and TH Lee Partners; and venture firms Austin Ventures, Menlo Ventures and Summit Partners.

The pension fund says that it only considers firms where at least two partners have a minimum of five years investment experience as a team. —Nancy Gordon

Abbott Has $1B to Spend

Funds of funds manager Abbott Capital Management has secured slightly more than $1 billion in pledges for its sixth fund, reaching the target in late April.

The firm raised $858 million for its prior fund, which closed in 2006. Through July 2008, 92% of its fifth fund was committed, although less than 40% of the committed capital had been drawn down at that time, according to the firm.

Abbott, which is based in New York, invests in venture capital and growth equity, buyout and special situations funds in the United States and other developed markets. It expects to pledge between 20 and 30 general partnerships with its latest fund.

Investors in its fund of funds include the Baltimore Employees’ Retirement System, the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund and the Sacramento County Employees’ Retirement System. —Nancy Gordon