CalPERS real estate portfolio manager quits

James G. Lasher, a senior portfolio manager for real estate, resigned from CalPERS.

He is the third senior portfolio manager to resign this month from the $226.5 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System, Sacramento.

Mr. Lasher’s resignation was confirmed Thursday by CalPERS spokesman Clark McKinley in an e-mail. Mr. McKinley said the resignation was effective Friday.

Mr. Lasher joined CalPERS two years ago following the financial blowup of the system’s $15.4 billion real estate portfolio during the housing crisis. He was managing investments in 20 funds focused on residential investments.

In his e-mail, Mr. McKinley said the housing portfolio is to be de-emphasized as CalPERS winds down non-core investments under its new real estate strategic plan.

CalPERS’ investment committee on Monday approved a new real estate investment plan that shifts the assets Mr. Lasher manages into a $6.8 billion legacy portfolio. Ultimately, CalPERS plans to sell those assets under a three-year plan.

The bulk of CalPERS’ real estate holdings, $8.6 million, is to be placed in a new core real estate portfolio.

Mr. McKinley would not comment further and calls to Mr. Lasher were not returned.

However, sources, who asked not to be identified, said Mr. Lasher was particularly upset at the increasing role that consultants are playing in setting the new real estate direction for the retirement system and felt left out of the equation.

Mr. Lasher is one of three senior portfolio managers for the real estate program. They all operate under the direction of Ted Eliopoulos, senior investment officer, real estate.

Mr. Eliopoulos put out a written statement to investment staff on Wednesday praising Mr. Lasher.

“Jamie has been instrumental to the real estate unit since coming to CalPERS in 2009,” Mr. Eliopoulos said. “He has led significant efforts to evaluate and manage our commingled funds (and) to evaluate and assess the leverage within the program.”

Mr. McKinley did not immediately respond to questions as to whether Mr. Lasher would be replaced.

Earlier this week, Mr. McKinley had confirmed that Joncarlo Mark and Michael Dutton, senior portfolio managers of CalPERS’ $47.5 billion alternative investment management program, also resigned.