Altus Group withdrew from consideration as a finalist in a search by the Florida State Board of Administration, Tallahassee, calling the process “unfair” and “not transparent,” said Sayla Nordin, vice president, investor relations and corporate communications.
Altus “found (the search process) to be less than transparent,” Ms. Nordin said. “We feel they made changes to the terms as we were going through the process. We felt it wasn't fair.”
FSBA selected Altus and Real Estate Research as finalists for appraisal management services for real estate and alternative investments. The FSBA issued an invitation to negotiate in January allowing firms to bid on one of the services or both.
FSBA planned to hire one or both firms for the services, depending on the outcome of negotiations.
But in a March 13 letter to FSBA, Altus President Robert Ruggles said the firm was withdrawing from consideration.
In the letter, Mr. Ruggles wrote SBA officials advised Altus after it was selected as a finalist that it needed to include both services in order to be hired, even though SBA officials earlier confirmed with Altus it need not bid for alternative services.
Altus executives “are concerned with the process by which the ITN is being conducted and that the scope of work required to be included in our proposal has altered to a point where we feel obligated to withdraw,” Mr. Ruggles wrote.
John Kuczwanski, FSBA communications manager, confirmed the withdrawal. FSBA officials did not respond to Mr. Ruggles' letter, Mr. Kuczwanski said. Officials had no comment about the contentions.
FSBA is continuing to negotiate with Real Estate Research, which bid for both services, Mr. Kuczwanski said. The negotiations include whether RER would be hired for one of the services or both, Mr. Kuczwanski added.
FSBA oversees $162.3 billion in assets, including the $132.1 billion Florida Retirement System defined benefit plan, which had $10 billion in real estate and almost $13 billion in alternative investments, consisting of $6.6 billion in private equity and $6.3 billion in hedge funds and other opportunistic strategies. The values are as of Feb. 22.