CalPERS Weighs Foray Into Riskier Loan Securities

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

CalPERS is considering investing in collateralized loan obligations (CLOs), or securities backed by a pool of (sometimes low-grade) corporate loans.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Fixed-income executives for the nation’s largest public pension fund told their investment board committee Monday they want to buy riskier versions of “collateralized loan obligations,” which are securities backed by corporate loans. The plan already invests in triple-A rated slices of these securities.

“We think we have expertise in this area,” said fixed-income head Curtis Ishii. He added: “You get more spread if you take more risk.”

Mr. Ishii did not disclose how much the system, which is known by its abbreviation Calpers, would like to invest in the riskier loan-based securities. The move still needs to be approved by an investment strategy group comprised of the fund’s top investment officers.

Any shift it makes will likely influence others because of its size and history as an early adopter of alternatives to traditional stocks and bonds.

CalPERS announced last week that it is increasing its real estate holdings by 27 percent.


Photo by Stephen Curtin

San Diego Fund To Consider Firing Risk-Keen CIO


The San Diego County Employees Retirement System (SDCERS) is by now notorious for its risky investment strategies, which include heavy use of leverage.

Pension360 has covered the pension fund’s board meetings this month, during which some trustees wondered aloud whether the fund should dial back risk.

Now, the board is considering another item: whether the fund’s chief investment officer should keep his job. Reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune:

The county pension board voted Thursday to formally consider firing their Texas investment consultant.

The decision on the future employment of Salient Partners of Houston was set for Oct. 2, one day after the last of the county’s in-house investment staff was scheduled to go to work for the investment firm as part of a years-long outsourcing push.

In the meantime, Chief Investment Officer Lee Partridge of Salient will no longer be permitted to risk up to five times the amount of San Diego County’s pension money invested under his “risk-parity” strategy.

The board considered yesterday the idea of allowing higher amounts of leverage in pension fund investments. But that idea was voted down by a measure of 5-2.

Now, the board has suspended its CIO’s ability to use any leverage at all until the board votes on the CIO’s future. That vote will be held in early October.


Photo by dktrpepr via Flickr CC