CalPERS officials plan to establish a list of pre-approved consultants to help it devise strategies and programs for investing in neglected domestic markets and to find emerging managers, brokers and consultants. Officials for the $200.7 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento, 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."
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 in a letter Wednesday 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.