CalPERS Invests $211 Million in U.S. Apartments


CalPERS has committed an additional $211 million to a partnership that invests in apartments in the Western half of the United States.

More details from IP Real Estate:

California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) has made a new $211m (€186.7m) allocation to the Pacific Multifamily Investors partnership.


Pacific will buy apartment properties at least 11 years old west of the Mississippi. Core assets are typically thought to be less than 10 years old, putting the strategy outide what most funds consider core.

Pacific Urban believes that the properties it will buy still have core attributes and be able to achieve durability of income. A mixture of teachers, firemen, police officers and nurses, are typical tenants of the assets it invests in.

No more than 25% leverage will be used in the portfolio.

Acquisitions to date have been on the West Coast, from Southern California up to Seattle. The partnership can also consider Texas, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.

The partnership now includes seven properties totaling more than 2,000 units.

CalPERS manages $296 billion in assets as of October 31, 2014.

CalPERS Members Affected by Anthem Hack


Last week’s hack of health insurance provider Anthem Blue Cross exposed millions of Americans to the threat of identity theft – including thousands of members of the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS).

The hackers allegedly stole personal data such as social security numbers, addresses, names, email addresses and birthdays.

According to CalWatchdog, the affected CalPERS members received the following email:

“As many of you have heard in the news, our health plan partner Anthem Blue Cross disclosed late last night that hackers breached its computer systems and the personal information of its members. Like you, we are very concerned and frustrated about this unacceptable breach. We have been in touch with Anthem this morning to ensure they are doing everything possible to protect our members and their families who are enrolled in the plan.”

It’s recommended that those who’ve been affected by the Anthem hack reset their passwords. Additionally, watch out for fake emails and phone calls claiming to be from Anthem – the firm has said it will only be contacting people by mail.

Judge in Stockton Bankruptcy Calls CalPERS a “Bully”


The federal judge overseeing Stockton’s bankruptcy, Judge Christopher Klein, this week called CalPERS a “bully” with a “glass jaw”.

The comments came as Klein put his Stockton ruling in writing for the first time.

More from Reuters:

The judge overseeing the city of Stockton’s bankruptcy case in California described the country’s largest pension fund as a “bully” yielding an “iron fist,” in a written ruling that reiterated his oral confirmation of the city’s plan to exit Chapter 9.

U.S. Federal Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein’s ruling again staked out ground for bankrupt municipalities to alter their workers’ pensions, a contract that the California Public Employees’ Retirement System had ferociously argued could not be touched. Stockton, however, elected to leave its pensions intact.

“CalPERS has bullied its way about in this case with an iron fist insisting that it and the municipal pensions it services are inviolable. The bully may have an iron fist, but it also turns out to have a glass jaw,” wrote Klein, who orally confirmed the city’s plan to exit Chapter 9 protections in October.


Calpers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Stockton filed for bankruptcy in 2012. The city could have altered pensions as part of its bankruptcy plan, but opted against it.


Photo by Joe Gratz via Flickr CC License

Preqin Tells Private Equity to Heed the “Power of the Limited Partner” After CalPERS’ Cuts


Research firm Preqin has released a note reacting to CalPERS’ cutting of private equity managers.

The firm notes that limited partners are beginning to wield more negotiating power, and cautions private equity firms to consider CalPERS’ actions an “effective statement” on the power of limited partners.

More from Chief Investment Officer:

Private equity fund managers should take heed of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System’s (CalPERS) overhaul of its allocation to the asset class and focus on justifying the terms they present to clients, according to Preqin.

The research firm was responding to last week’s announcement by CalPERS that it wanted to drastically reduce the number of private equity managers it uses in order to cut costs.

“The decision by CalPERS may not immediately result in a drop in overall commitments to private equity funds,” Preqin said in a research note, “but serves as an effective statement to fund managers on the importance of justifying fund terms, as well as the power of the limited partner.”

The research firm said CalPERS’ decision reflected a wider concern among investors that fees were the biggest challenge to their investment in private equity. Roughly 58% of respondents to Preqin’s survey of US public pensions said fees were their chief concern.

It’s important to note that CalPERS is not cutting its allocation to private equity, only the number of PE managers it employs.

Preqin’s research note can be found here.


Photo by  rocor via Flickr CC License

San Bernardino Bankruptcy Plan Will Impair Bondholders, Not Pensions, Says City Lawyer

San Bernardino

The attorney for the bankrupt California city of San Bernardino on Thursday said that pensions would not be altered in the course of the city’s bankruptcy.

The statement was important, because it was the first official word from the city that pensioners would be given much higher priority than its bondholders.

Observers are watching San Bernardino closely; specifically, how the city handles its pension debt during bankruptcy.

As municipal bankruptcies become more common, pension benefits are increasingly on the chopping block.

But San Bernardino officials all along said that they would preserve pension benefits and keep making payments to the California Public Employees Retirement System.

The city’s other creditors won’t be so lucky. In order to preserve pensions, the city’s bondholders will likely be significantly impaired.

On Thursday, City Attorney Gary Saenz made the following statements about the city’s bankruptcy plan, according to Reuters:

Bankrupt San Bernardino will significantly impair its bondholder creditors while paying pension fund Calpers in full in a plan to be presented in May, City Attorney Gary Saenz said on Thursday.


Saenz said the city will present its bankruptcy plan in May to give creditors a clear idea of how much the city can afford to pay them. The city was preparing for months of challenges and possible litigation from unhappy creditors after the plan is presented, he said.

“From their perspective, they see some impairment of Calpers as reasonable if they are going to receive a significant impairment,” Saenz said, referring to EEPK, Ambac and Wells Fargo. “But we need to compare that argument to our ability to provide services for our city. And that needs a workforce. And you can’t have a workforce without pensions.”

Under the city’s bankruptcy plan that is being drafted, cutting its debt to its pension obligation bondholders “will not have the same impact on the city post-banktruptcy if we impaired pensions,” Saenz said.

In Detroit’s bankruptcy, pensions were indeed cut. But the cuts were less than many expected, and creditors still took the brunt of the hit.

Another bankrupt California city, Stockton, manages to keep pension benefits unimpaired.


Photo by  Pete Zarria via Flickr CC License

CalPERS Put Its Money to Work in India in 2014


The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, among other pension funds, has been vocal about making India part of their long-term investment strategy.

CalPERS hasn’t announced it from the top of the hills, but the numbers reveal that the country’s largest public pension fund is also taking considerable interest in India.

CalPERS increased its exposure to India by over 33 percent in 2014.

From VC Circle:

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), one of the top public pension funds in the US, saw its exposure to assets linked to Indian currency rise by over a third to $1.7 billion in the fiscal ended on June 30, 2014 as compared to $1.27 billion in the year ago period, according to the annual financial report of the company.

Almost all of this was due to changes in fair value of assets in the equity securities bucket from $885 million to $1.3 billion. The value of the real assets, representing primarily real estate assets, shrunk marginally.

This data represent investment securities of all CalPERS managed funds, including derivative instruments that are subject to Indian rupee foreign currency risk.

It did not list any quantum against PE assets in India and it could not be ascertained if this is due to its forex hedging over dollar denominated offshore funds or it has actually disassociated itself with India-focused PE funds.

But CalPERS does counts itself as an investor in several global PE funds investing in India including some in their regional funds. These include Blackstone, KKR, Carlyle, TPG, Clearstone, SAIF Partners, etc.

CalPERS manages over $300 billion worth of pension assets.


Photo by travel photography via Flickr CC License

Sentencing Pushed Back For Defendant in CalPERS Bribery Case

Fred Buenrostro

The sentencing of Fred Buenrostro, the former CalPERS executive who pleaded guilty over the summer to accepting bribes, has been pushed back nearly five months to allow further cooperation with the government.

From the Sacramento Bee:

Fred Buenrostro, who left the California Public Employees’ Retirement System in 2008, will now be sentenced May 13 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Buenrostro, who is free on bond, was originally scheduled for a Jan. 7 sentencing.

Buenrostro pleaded guilty in July to accepting bribes from former CalPERS board member Alfred Villalobos, a Reno businessman who earned millions in commissions securing pension fund investments for various private-equity firms. Buenrostro said he took more than $250,000 in cash, casino chips and other benefits from Villalobos, who prosecutors say was trying to gain favor for his investment clients.

As part of his guilty plea, Buenrostro agreed to testify against Villalobos, who has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors and Villalobos’ lawyer filed a joint statement in court last week asking for the postponement “in order to permit Mr. Buenrostro’s ongoing cooperation with the government.”

Judge Charles Breyer agreed to reschedule the sentencing. Buenrostro is expected to get a five-year prison term, according to the plea agreement, although the judge will have the final say.

Villalobos, who is also free on bond, is scheduled to go to trial in February on three felony charges. If convicted, the 70-year-old Villalobos could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison. Villalobos is a former deputy mayor of Los Angeles who served on the CalPERS board in the early 1990s.

More Pension360 coverage of the bribery scandal can be read here.

CalPERS Puts Private Equity Benchmarks Under Review


CalPERS’ private equity portfolio underperformed its benchmark by 3.3 percent last fiscal year – but that’s only one of the reasons that the country’s largest public pension fund is putting its private equity benchmarks under review.

Reported by Pensions & Investments:

CalPERS’ $31 billion private equity portfolio has underperformed its policy benchmark over both long- and short-term periods, shows a review of the program, but pension fund officials feel part of the problem is that the benchmark seeks too aggressive a return and are seeking revisions.

The private equity staff review, to be presented to the investment committee Dec. 15, shows that as of June 30 the private equity portfolio produced an annualized 10-year return of 13.3%, compared to its custom policy benchmark of 15.4% annualized.

Over the shorter one-year period, CalPERS’ portfolio returned 20%, compared to the benchmark’s 23.3%; over three years, it returned 12.8% annualized compared to the benchmark’s 14.5%; and over five years, it returned 18.7% compared to the benchmark’s 23.2%.

But the report says the benchmark — which is made up of the market returns of two-thirds of the FTSE U.S. Total Market index, one-third of the FTSE All World ex-U.S. Total Market index, plus 300 basis points — “creates unintended active risk for the program, as well as for the total fund.”

California Public Employees’ Retirement System investment officials have said publicly at investment committee meetings that they feel the private equity benchmark they are shooting to outperform is too aggressive.

CalPERS manages $295 billion in assets, of which $31 billion is private equity.


Photo by  rocor via Flickr CC License

CalPERS CEO Addresses Stockton Ruling

The CalPers Building in West Sacramento California.
The CalPERS building in West Sacramento, California.

Anne Stausboll, CEO of the California Public Employees Retirement System, released a statement addressing a recent court ruling that the bankrupt city of Stockton could cut pensions and stop contributing to CalPERS as part of its bankruptcy proceedings.

The statement in full:

The ruling last week by a federal bankruptcy judge in Stockton’s bankruptcy case has caused many to speculate about the future of pensions. Public employees, retirees, employers, lawyers, taxpayers, and journalists have legitimate questions and concerns.

As the administrator of pensions, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System does not win or lose in this situation. If pensions are reduced in bankruptcies, the only losers are public employees.

Contrary to the belief of many pension critics, CalPERS is no Goliath. Franklin Templeton Investments – the last bondholder standing in the way of the city of Stockton’s plan to rebuild – is no David.

Franklin Templeton is a sophisticated Wall Street investor that did its due diligence, analyzed the risks, and decided to make a $36 million investment in Stockton. As it turns out, the investment did not pay off. That’s how the investment world works. Franklin needs to move on.

The real Davids are the current and former employees of the city of Stockton whose retirements are at stake. These librarians, secretaries, firefighters, police officers, 911 dispatchers, and school custodians chose to serve the public at lower salaries in return for the promise of a reliable and secure pension. Their pensions are deferred compensation that they earned by working 10, 20, and sometimes 30 years in service to their communities.

Public employees contribute from every paycheck toward their own retirement. It is not a bonus or optional benefit that an employer may choose to not pay during hard times.

We applaud the leadership of Stockton officials in finding solutions to protect the pension promises made to its public employees while forging a reasonable path toward a fiscally sustainable future.

CalPERS will stand by Stockton, its employees, and residents, and will continue to champion those who really stand to lose – the real Davids – the public employees and retirees who spent their careers serving our communities and California.


Photo by Stephen Curtin

Some Pension Funds Are Interested In The Hedge Funds CalPERS Dropped

 The CalPers Building in West Sacramento California.
The CalPERS Building in West Sacramento California.

CalPERS announced plans to phase out its $4 billion hedge fund portfolio last month. But other pension funds are now interested in the hedge funds CalPERS is getting rid of, according to a report from FinAlternatives:

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System already has potential buyers kicking the tires of its $4 billion hedge fund portfolio.

The pension, which last month announced it would take at least a year to “strategically exit” its hedge fund investments, has received indications of interest for some or all of its holdings from other state pension funds, reports Fortune, citing sources familiar with the situation.

The State of Wisconsin Investment Board, which has yet to meet its hedge fund investment targets, was identified by a source as one of those potential buyers.

A CalPERS spokesman told Fortune the pension will “evaluate all possibilities” with the portfolio, but would not confirm interest from other pension funds.

“Ultimately, we will exit those investments in a manner that best serves the interests of the fund,” said the spokesman.

Pension360 has covered the fact that, while CalPERS has exited hedge funds, not many pensions have followed in their footsteps.


Photo by Stephen Curtin via Flickr CC License