New York Common Fund To Invest Up To $5 Billion in Africa

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The New York State Common Retirement Fund plans to invest up to three percent of its assets – or $5 billion – in Africa over the next five years, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

The pension fund is seeking diversification and stronger returns, and believes African investments can deliver on those goals.

The fund currently has $200 million invested in the continent via private equity funds.

From the Wall Street Journal:

African private-equity firms, venture capital, real estate and new infrastructure projects such as power plants are likely to receive funding, said Chief Investment Officer Vicki Fuller.

[…]

“I want to invest in the people who are local, understand the culture, understand on a very granular basis what’s happening,” Ms. Fuller said at a conference in London organized by the African Private-Equity and Venture Capital Association.

The fund will write checks of about $100 million for funds bigger than $500 million and invest in smaller firms and new funds through a fund of funds manager rather than directly.

The New York pension manager is also prepared to team up with sovereign-wealth funds and other pension funds to invest in African infrastructure projects.

In response to a question about how to encourage more American public pension funds to invest in Africa, Ms. Fuller said it was important to brief trustees and overseers, such as New York State comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“His only concerns are that we invest in countries that treat their citizens well. Now, on a given day, that’s not even the case in the U.S.,” Ms. Fuller said. “But you know that the law is on the side of the citizenry in the U.S.”

The New York Common Fund manages $180 billion in assets.

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