During the first quarter of 2019, 23 ERISA-related lawsuits have been filed and/or updated with 30 stories written. Seventy-nine stories were written on 65 ERISA cases in 2018. The involved parties either reached a settlement, filed an appeal or a court decision was made.
Hiring activity increased 102.2% from the fourth quarter to $105.76 billion, mostly due to Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund's $45 billion investment in SoftBank Vision Fund. Excluding the SoftBank investment, hiring activity increased 16.19% for the quarter and dipped 1.53% from the same period a year ago. Blackstone won 23 mandates, totaling $5.01 billion, for alternative investments in Capital Partners VIII, Real Estate Partners Europe VI, Real Estate Partners IX, Tactical Opportunities Fund III and Infrastructure Partners funds.
Sixteen money management deals took place in the first quarter of 2019, an 36% decrease from the previous quarter. In the first quarter of 2018, there were 33 transactions. Assets under management involved in the transactions totaled $156.53 billion, down 80% from $780.92 billion in the previous quarter and a decline of 89% from the same period a year ago. In the first quarter, Brookfield Asset Management agreed to acquire about 62% of Oaktree Capital Group's business for $4.7 billion, with 50% in cash and 50% in 51.4 million Brookfield shares. Howard Marks, Oaktree co-chairman and co-founder, will join Brookfield's board of directors, and the two companies together will have about $475 billion in AUM. Also in the quarter, Fiera Capital Corp. announced the acquisition of Integrated Asset Management Corp. for $74 million. IAM's private debt investment and industrial real estate team will be incorporated into Fiera Private Lending and Fiera Properties, respectively.
Due to soaring interest in private investments by institutional investors as well as the long-term allocation shift to private markets that we have observed in recent years, Pensions & Investments is launching a new database to cover private funds closed starting in 2010. Along with P&I survey data, P&IQ Searches & Hires database information, Pensions & Investments aims to paint a clear picture of private capital markets growth.
Search activity for the fourth quarter of 2018 increased 14.5% from the prior quarter, and was up 47% from the fourth quarter of 2017. Hiring activity decreased 28.7% from the third quarter to $52.29 billion, down 18.8% from the period a year ago. Kempen Capital Management won a $9.6 billion fiduciary management mandate from Stichting Pensioenfonds PostNL.
Twenty-five money management deals took place in the fourth quarter, an 11% decrease from the previous quarter. In the fourth quarter of 2017, there were 31 transactions. AUM involved in the transactions totaled $780.92 billion, up 279% from $205.92 billion from the previous quarter. However, total assets involved decreased 41% from the same period a year ago.
Total worldwide real estate assets under management rose to $1.48 trillion as of June 30, 2018, up 11.48% from $1.32 trillion reported a year earlier, according to Pensions & Investments' annual survey of real estate managers. Based on Pensions & Investments' historical data, worldwide real estate AUM shrank by 32% during the subprime mortgage crisis, dipping to $683.9 billion in 2010, and re-surpassed the $1 trillion mark in 2014.
Money manager M&A deals in the third quarter increased 8% while assets involved fell 57% from the second quarter. Twenty eight money management deals took place during the most recent quarter, an increase from 26 in the previous quarter. In the third quarter of 2017, there were 21 transactions. Total AUM involved in the transactions were $205.9 billion, down from $476.8 billion from the previous quarter.
Among the largest 100 U.S. public retirement systems, the South Dakota Investment Council has delivered relatively consistent absolute and relative investment returns compared to its peers and its policy benchmarks over the 10-, five-, three- and one-year time frames ended in 2017.
Canada's largest 13 public pension plans have seen a significant total plan asset increase to C$1.02 trillion in 2017, up 10.46% from 2016. Five of 13 public plans achieved asset growth rate of 11% or more because of both tactical and strategic allocations in favor of public equities and alternatives including private equities, infrastructure and real estate, both of which posted double-digit returns in 2017.
Aggregate assets of Canadian pension plans of companies in the S&P TSX 60 index increased to $144 billion and aggregate liabilities increased to $151 billion in 2017. The aggregate funding ratio improved slightly to 94.86% from 92.83% in 2017, and the median funding ratio improved 3.9 percentage points. Since 2009, aggregate plan assets increased by 59.5% and aggregate liabilities increased by 56.25%.