CalPERS issued an RFP for consultants to help it devise strategies and programs for investing in neglected domestic markets and to find emerging managers, brokers and consultants. The $200.7 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento, plans to create a pre-approved list of consultants. Officials expect one of those firms to initially serve as lead consultant.
CalPERS' diversity initiative is designed to boost the pension fund's efforts in hiring minority- and women-owned firms, and to increase investments in ignored markets. CalPERS already has more than $4.5 billion in what it terms "underserved California markets."
The RFP can be found at www.calpers.ca.gov/index.jsp?bc=/business/opportunities/viewsolicitations.xml&id=4. The deadline for proposals is Feb. 22, with selections to be made shortly thereafter.
Also, CalPERS asked the SEC to block the sale of 19.8% of Sovereign Bancorp's stock to Banco Santander Central Hispano because pension fund officials believe there should be a shareholder vote on the deal.
"We believe the right to vote is a fundamental shareowner right and a pillar of good corporate governance principles," Anne Stausboll, CalPERS' interim CIO, wrote Wednesday in a letter to the SEC.
CalPERS officials are supporting a petition filed by Relational Investors, which manages assets for the fund. Relational, which owns 8% of Sovereign stock, opposes the deal, which would give the Spanish bank the ability to purchase Sovereign outright in 2008. Sovereign had agreed to sell a stake to Santander for $2.4 billion, which would be used to acquire Independence Community Bank for $3.6 billion.
Relational officials want the SEC to overrule the New York Stock Exchange, which said a shareholder vote was not required. Relational also seeks to elect two directors to Sovereign's board.