Searches and Hires

New Jersey allocates $300 million to private equity

New Jersey Division of Investment, which handles investments for the $79.4 billion New Jersey Pension Fund, Trenton, has made private equity commitments of up to $300 million total to two firms.

Both commitments were announced Thursday at a meeting of the State Investment Council, which governs investment policies for the division, a unit of the state Treasury Department.

The division made a commitment of up to $200 million to JLL Partners Fund VIII, which concentrates on small- and middle-market buyout strategies, according to a division report presented to the council. The division has made commitments to several JLL funds, and it also has "co-invested alongside JLL in other investments generating attractive returns," the report said.

The division also made a commitment of up to $100 million to KSL Capital Partners V, a fund that focuses on real estate equity and debt investments in the travel and leisure industries, the report said. The division made a commitment to a previous KSL fund in 2015. Separately, the pension fund returned a net 2.64% for the three months ended Sept. 30, the first quarter of its current fiscal year. The benchmark was 3.16%. The net return for the first nine months of 2018 was 5.01%, better than the benchmark of 4.45%.

At Thursday's meeting, the State Investment Council reported that its ESG committee rejected a request by a board member to re-evaluate its investment in Nike Inc.

The request was made last month by Marty Barrett, a council member who represents the Police & Firemen's Retirement System, one of seven pension systems within the New Jersey Pension Fund.

Mr. Barrett had objected to a Nike marketing campaign that included Colin Kaepernick, a former National Football League quarterback.

Mr. Kaepernick sat, then knelt during the playing of the national anthem at several NFL games in 2016. He said it was to protest police brutality and racial injustice. Critics said his actions represented an unpatriotic lack of respect for the flag, law enforcement officers and the military.

In a letter to the council last month, Mr. Barrett said Nike had "demonstrated poor judgment" in its marketing campaign.

However, the ESG committee "determined not to recommend either divestment from Nike or engagement with Nike on the basis of concerns related to its marketing campaign," according to a statement issued at the council meeting. "Engagement activities shall not be undertaken merely to impact a standard of social behavior, to the extent such behavior has no material impact on the financial performance or stability of an investment," the statement said.

The New Jersey Pension Fund holds 312,000 shares of Nike worth about $23.6 million.