Vanguard Group formed a joint venture with MLC, an Australian financial services company, to provide retirement plan services to Australian employers. The new company, Plum Financial Services, will offer a wide selection of invest ment options managed by Vanguard and MLC, and record keeping, administration, employee communications and education. MLC will merge with National Mutual, a large Australian insurance company, within the next few weeks, subject to regulatory approval, creating Australia's largest fund management firm. Vanguard has been a long-term subadviser to MLC, managing $435 million in an MSCI World ex-Australia index portfolio. Proposed changes to Australian pension la w would require employers to offer employees a choice of superannuation plans and to encourage employees to take more active roles in managing their retirement plans. Global Asset Management is expanding its offerings to the U.K. p ension and charity market, launching an umbrella structure with 13 specialist asset classes. GAM Exempt Trust will enable clients to set their own asset allocations. Each of the funds mirrors an existing GAM fund that is available either to the U.K. retail or U.S. pension market. Offered will be funds covering 12 geographic areas plus one balanced portfolio that will roughly track the median allocation of the Combined Actuarial Performance Services benchmark . Cornell University's endowment fund, Ithaca, N.Y., expects to receive soon a $100 million donation from Sanford I. Weill, chairman of Travelers Group, and his wife, Joan, who announced the gift last week. James S. Clarke, associ ate treasurer-investments, believes the entire donation ``will go into our regular long-term investment pool,'' which totals $2.4 billion. ``$100 million is a large amount, but it's easily absorbed in the pool. I don't think it wil l occasion any changes in investment strategy'' or managers.
The fund has 66% in domestic equity, 9% in international equity and 25% in fixed income.
Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association-College Retirement Equities Fund reduced the expenses on four of the variable annuity accounts used by its retirement plan clients. As of May 1, the total annual expense ratio of the CREF Growth Account dropped to 34 basis points from 36; for the CREF Global Equities F und, fees dropped to 37 basis points from 38; and for the CREF Equity Index and Social Choice Accounts, fees dropped to 29 basis points from 30. Essex County Retirement Board, Salem, Mass., with about $161 million in assets, will i nterview three finalists in its search for its first venture capital manager May 12. The three firms are Boston Millenia, Abbott Capital and Zero Stage, said Kevin Leonard, the Segal Advisors consultant who is assisting. The select ed firm will manage $4 million, which will come from cutting back the fund's exposure to existing managers. The fund has 64% of its assets in equities and the remainder in fixed income. Attleboro (Mass.) Municipal Contributory Ret irement System, with about $42 million in assets, picked four finalists in its search for a publicly traded REIT manager. The firms are INVESCO, State Street Global Advisors, Morgan Stanley and Delaware Investment, said Kevin Leona rd, the Segal Advisors consultant who is assisting. The system will allocate $2 million to the new firm, its first real estate manager.
The fund will make its pick at its May 19 board meeting.
Liberty All-Star Equity Fund hired Boston Partners Asset Management as one of its five portfolio managers, effective May 11. Boston Partners, a value-style portfolio manager, will replace Palley-Needelman. Roger Palley, CIO of Palley-Needelman, said he understood the trustees of the mutual fund wanted to hire a company with a more aggressive style than his company was using in managing its portion of the fund. E. Olena Berg, assistant labor secretary and head of the Pension and Welfare Benefit s Administration, will leave that post this summer.
Ms. Berg is leaving the Labor Department for personal reasons; she plans to get married and move to the Milwaukee area.
The Labor Department has not yet begun a search for her successor. Gary MacDonald was promoted to vice president of new business development at Funds Distributor Inc., a position that has been vacant since last fall. Mr. MacDonald joined Funds Distributor last year as vice president, se nior client services. Mr. MacDonald was replaced by Bill Catlin, who most recently was manager of sales analysis and electronic marketing and communications at State Street Research. Funds Distributor provides marketing, sales and distribution services for investment management companies.