Arkansas Teacher Retirement System, Little Rock, committed up to $35 million to Sycamore Partners Fund I, confirmed George Hopkins, executive director of the $11 billion retirement system.
The private equity fund seeks to turn around small- and middle-market retail companies, Mr. Hopkins said in a telephone interview. It is the retirement system's first investment with Sycamore. Private equity consultant Franklin Park assisted.
Separately, the board terminated a $50 million equity activist hedge fund managed by Knight Vinke Asset Management for performance. Mr. Hopkins said the strategy sought to change the behavior of large European companies, but has had difficulty in the last few years as those companies have been in survival mode. He added the retirement system would be interested in reinvesting with Knight Vinke in several years if there are changes in the European market.
“It is every client's privilege to withdraw if they choose to,” said David Trenchard, vice chairman at Knight Vinke, in an e-mail.
Also, the pension fund purchased 10,000 acres of Arkansas timberland for $16 million, Mr. Hopkins said. Regions Timberland Group manages the retirement system's $400 million in timber assets.
The retirement system is also slated to meet with State Street Corp. within the next few weeks to discuss a settlement in relation to a lawsuit the fund filed in U.S. District Court in Boston in February 2011 over foreign-exchange fees.
U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mark Wolf said the two sides must meet once before July 13 after a motion by State Street to dismiss the claims was rejected last month.