MassPRIM Loses Second PE Manager

The exodus continues on MassPRIM’s private equity team. Less than two months after the departure of Wayne Smith, Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management’s private equity chief, the pension’s second-most-senior private equity manager, Senior Investment Officer Michael Langdon, also said that he was planning to leave. Langdon’s last day at MassPRIM is set for be Oct. 14, when he will join London-based Hermes Global Private Equity and help establish the firm’s Boston office. Hermes manages $7 billion in private assets, including $1 billion in the U.S.

A spokeswoman for the $41 billion pension, Alethea Harney, said the timing of the two departures was an “unfortunate coincidence” and that the two departures “were not related in any way.” Nevertheless, the moves will leave MassPRIM’s private equity staff at half its usual four-person strength.

“Michael has been an extremely strong performer at PRIM, and I considered him to be one of our rising stars,” said Michael Trotsky, MassPRIM’s executive director, in a written statement. “Michael will be missed,” he said.

MassPRIM manages $5.4 billion in private equity, an asset that proved to be a strong contributor to the pension’s 22.3 percent return in fiscal 2011, which ended in June. The private equity team’s two junior members, investment officers Scott Hutchins and Peony Keve, remain at the pension.

Langdon’s departure is the latest in a series of senior moves at major pension funds, most of them to the private sector. Earlier this month, the chief executive of the $147 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, Raudline Etienne, left to join the Albright Stonebridge Group, a consulting firm. Meanwhile, the $36 billion Maryland State Retirement and Pension System formally named its interim chief investment officer, A. Melissa Moye, as the pension’s permanent CIO. Finally, Ronald Schmitz, the chief investment officer of the $60 billion Oregon Public Employees Retirement System, was lured to the $51 billion Virginia Retirement System with a potential total pay package of $900,000.

Langdon had worked on the MassPRIM private equity team for five years and was prominent in extending the pension’s private equity reach overseas, including investments in China and South Africa. Until recently, he reported to Smith.

Smith, who had been with the fund 11 years, left MassPRIM to join Pathway Capital Partners, a fund-of-funds company with $23 billion under management. He reported to Chief Investment Officer Stanley Mavromates.

The pension has not set a time frame for replacing Langdon or Smith, except to say that they have begun the executive search process and are seeking to replace them as soon as possible. Harney said Langdon’s position will have a starting salary of about $125,000.

Langdon was unavailable for comment.

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