OK after quake
A 6.8 earthquake caused minimal disruption to Washington state pension funds and money managers.
James Parker, executive director of the $59 billion Washington State Investment Board in Olympia, just 12 miles from the quake's epicenter, quipped that he was calling from "Earthquake Central," although the board's building experienced no damage. But an investment group based in the state treasurer's office is located in a building that was severely damaged, Mr. Parker noted. Under a reciprocal arrangement, traders from the treasurer's office moved into the WSIB building.
"The movement in my office was just staggering," said Christopher J. Phillips, manager, corporate public relations, for Frank Russell Co. in Tacoma. No damage occurred. "It's just scary, because there's not a lot you can do," he said.
Barry Fetterman, a principal and portfolio manager at Sirach Capital Management Inc., Seattle, reported that some file cabinets fell over, pictures were knocked askew and a few cracks appeared in interior walls. Ed Vaughn, accounting technician at the $1.6 billion Seattle City Employees' Retirement System, said the fund's building "did a jelly roll" but there was no damage.
Illinois Teachers exec leaving
Keith Bozarth, executive director of the Teachers' Retirement System of the State of Illinois will leave the plan effective March 30 to become executive director of the $4.9 billion Orange County Employees Retirement System.
Mr. Bozarth, who has headed the $22 billion Illinois fund since 1998, replaces Ray Fleming, who left the Orange County fund last July
Vermont boosts international
The $171 million Vermont Municipal Employees Retirement System boosted its international equities exposure and eliminated cash as an asset class as a result of a new asset allocation recommended by consultant Wilshire Associates. Trustees for the system also agreed to invest up to 2% of the domestic equity exposure in private equities.
The system raised its international equity exposure to 20% from 14%, cut fixed income to 30% from 32%, and dropped its 4% allocation to cash, said James H. Douglas, state treasurer.
Sole international equities manager Brinson will have its allocation increased to $35 million from $25 million, with funding coming from cash and from a core fixed-income portfolio run by Seix Investment Advisors, which will be reduced by $3.5 million from $57 million.
Watson Wyatt loses suit
The $169 million Connecticut Carpenters Pension Fund was awarded $39.9 million in a judgment against Watson Wyatt by an eight-person jury in a federal court in New Haven. The jury found Watson Wyatt was negligent, committed malpractice and breached its contract with the fund by using outdated mortality tables, resulting in seven years of erroneous reporting on accrued liabilities.
Watson Wyatt said in a statement it is considering an appeal and carries professional liability insurance to cover the loss. It also said that after discovering the errors in the fund's liabilities, it promptly reported them to the fund
Another new policy in Florida
The Florida State Board of Administration approved another version of an investment policy statement for its new defined contribution plan.
The new statement attempts to remove a major sticking point by enabling the board to choose more than one bundled provider. Under the new definition, a bundled provider is a provider that offers a set of investments and services to plan participants.
Manchester taps 3
Greater Manchester (U.K.) Pension Fund, with L6 billion ($8.8 billion) in assets, hired three managers for new multiasset portfolios linked to plan-specific benchmarks.
Incumbent Phillips & Drew will run L2.6 billion; it managed the same amount in a balanced portfolio. Legal & General Investment will manage a L1.6 billion passive portfolio. Capital International will run L1 billion.
Canada Pension eyes changes
Canada Pension Plan is preparing to invest in domestic and international private equity, said Julie Winget, spokeswoman for the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, which manages the C$6.8 billion (US$4.4 billion) equity portion of the C$41.6 billion fund for all Canadian workers. Mark Weisdorf was hired by the board as vice president of private market investments to oversee the new program.
North Dakota picks timber
The $2.6 billion North Dakota State Investment Board hired Wachovia Timberland Management to run a $25 million timber portfolio, the board's first such investment, said Steve Cochrane, executive director and CIO. Timber is being classified as domestic fixed income. Funding will come from cutting the $512 million total allocations to domestic fixed-income managers Western Asset, Criterion, Bank of North Dakota and Strong.
Virginia increases alternatives
The $39.5 billion Virginia Retirement System decided to lower its minimum domestic equity investment to 40% of total assets from 45%. The system will increase its maximum alternatives investment to 20% of total assets from 15%. It also decided not to create a separate asset class for high-yield bonds, choosing instead to categorize high yield as an "opportunistic" alternatives investment, said Nancy Everett, CIO.
Dyson to join Merrill
Andrew Dyson has been appointed to the new position of head of institutional marketing at Merrill Lynch Investment Managers in London. Mr. Dyson previously was head of U.S. multinational investment consulting at William M. Mercer. Mercer's U.S. practice head Asghar Alam will take over Mr. Dyson's responsibilities.
AMVESCAP agreed to acquire National Asset Management for $200 million. AMVESCAP, which owns INVESCO and AIM, will incorporate National Asset into INVESCO's U.S. institutional division. National brings $17 billion in assets to AMVESCAP, all of it institutional, principally in domestic growth and domestic fixed-income investments.
Cambridge picks 3 for stocks
The $434 million Cambridge (Mass.) Contributory Retirement System hired Loomis Sayles to manage $12.5 million in active domestic midcap growth equities; Gabelli to run $12.5 million in active domestic midcap value equities; and Constitution to handle $20 million in active domestic small-cap growth equities.