CHICAGO — The Boeing Co. is at the tail end of a hiring spree, albeit a fairly small, but important one.
The Chicago-based manufacturer plans to double to six the number of investment specialists on staff by the end of the year to implement an ambitious increase in alternative investments within its $50 billion defined benefit plan.
Boeing executives announced in the spring that they are hiking the fund's alternative allocation by 11 percentage points to 27% of assets (P&I Daily, April 4) or a total of $13.5 billion based on current assets. Boeing now has about $8.5 billion invested in hedge funds, real estate, energy, timber, private equity, global tactical asset allocation and other alternative asset classes, said Todd H. Blecher, Boeing communications director.
The portfolio shift increases the hedge fund allocation to 6% from 3%; private equity to 6% from 4%; a new 10% allocation to real estate and timberland, energy and other natural resources, from 4% real estate; and global strategies (tactical asset allocation) will remain at 5%, Mr. Blecher said.
Getting that additional $5 billion invested in complicated, capacity-constrained, comparatively illiquid asset classes will take a lot more staff time and that's what prompted the recent spate of staff searches, said sources familiar with Boeing's plans.
Mr. Blecher confirmed that Boeing is increasing staff for its alternative investments group, led by Elizabeth Tulach, through the creation of three new positions: directors of hedge funds, private equity, and real estate and real assets.
Shane Willoughby joined in January as director of real estate and real assets. Mr. Willoughby was investment officer-real estate at the $38.7 billion Teachers' Retirement System of the State of Illinois, Springfield. Greg Uebele joined in June to head private equity; he was senior investment officer at the $82.9 billion Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, Columbus.
The hedge fund director position still is open though not for long, said executive recruiters and other industry sources with knowledge of Boeing's plans.
In an e-mail response to questions, Mr. Blecher said: “We're still evaluating candidates for the hedge fund director position. I'm not going to comment about whether a hire is imminent.”
Other sources said the corporate fund is down to reviewing two finalists and that a hire likely will be made soon.