CalPERS CIO Moves On

Russell Read today stepped down as chief investment officer of CalPERS, the nation’s largest public pension fund with $244 billion in assets (including around $24 billion billion in alternatives). No huge surprise given that public pensions often lose talent to the better-paying private sector. The WSJ is making some hay of Read having clashed with the board, but that’s nothing new at CalPERS. With great wealth comes great political in-fighting.

So the question now is where Read goes next. All we know so far is that he plans to pursue his “long-standing interest in environmental and cleantech investing.” That could mean just about anything, but my hunch is that he ends up with a private equity firm. In fact, he’s probably already got one picked out. Plenty of firms have launched cleantech practices — or want to launch them — and it would help to have a big-name investor on board to help stand apart from the crowd. Venture capital is also possible, but I’m not sure Read has the right type of scientific expertise needed to be successful.

Read officially leaves his CalPERS post on June 30, and will be replaced in the interim by Anne Stausboll. She served in a similar capacity when previous CIO Mark Anson left in 2006. He would go to Hermes Pensions Management in London, before returning stateside to become president of Chicago-based fund manager Nuveen Investments.