LP corner, week of July 20, 2009

Ill. Teachers adds emerging manager, continues search for staff

The Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Illinois recently committed up to $25 million to Maranon Mezzanine Fund, a vehicle managed by private equity firm Maranon Capital. Chicago-based Maranon Capital provides senior debt, mezzanine debt and equity co-investment capital for leveraged buyouts, recapitalizations, refinancings, growth initiatives and acquisitions. It seeks $250 million for its fund.

The state pension fund also approved an additional $100 million to Blackstone Capital Partners Fund, a mega-buyout fund that initially received a $50 million mandate from the LP last fall. The Blackstone Group seeks $15 billion to $20 billion for fund VI, and will begin investing from that vehicle in late 2009 or early 2010.

In other news, a committee will meet on July 31 to interview executive search firms, one of which will be hired to identify candidates for the executive director position that’s been vacant since April when Jon Bauman resigned. A finalist will likely be selected in August.

CIO Stan Rupnik will remain acting executive director until the position is filled. The LP is also interviewing candidates to replace Lamar Villere, formerly the senior alternative investments officer, who left earlier this year to oversee the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System’s private equity program. A search also continues for a general investment consultant.

TRS of Illinois had assets of $27.2 billion as of March 31. In late May, the state upped its target allocation to private equity to 10% from 8 percent. It had an actual private equity allocation of 9% at the end of March. —Nancy Gordon

Fresno taps secondary fund

The Fresno County Employees’ Retirement Association has chosen Landmark Capital Partners to manage a secondary pledge, although the $30 million commitment is contingent upon a review, said Roberto Peña, retirement administrator.

Landmark Equity Partners XIV plans to acquire partnerships that are four to six years old, are largely funded, and are close to liquidity. Fresno County previously invested about $19 million in Landmark’s Private Equity Fund X.

Separately, the LP’s distressed private equity search has narrowed to include funds of funds Drum Capital Management and Portfolio Advisors. The direct distressed investment options include Angelo Gordon & Co. and DDJ Capital Management. Consultant Wurts & Associates is advising Fresno County.

The $2 billion county pension fund’s current private equity commitments total $310 million across 14 partnerships. The program mostly consists of buyout funds, but also includes venture capital and special situations funds.

The limited partner’s actual private equity allocation stood at 9.8 percent as of March 31, with a policy target of 11 percent. —Nancy Gordon

Alaska commits $250M to Oaktree

The Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. hired Oaktree Capital Management in late June to manage a portion of the limited partner’s distressed debt allocation, committing $250 million to the firm’s OCM Opportunities Fund VIII, a new vehicle created to invest in distressed debt opportunities.

In late May, Alaska approved a new private equity investment policy resolution that includes a $500 million commitment for its fiscal year 2010, which began July 1, 2009. The amount will be divided between Boston-based HarbourVest Partners, a Boston fund-of-funds manager hired in December to oversee a separate global private equity portfolio discretionary account, and Pathway Capital Management, an Irvine, Calif.-based firm that manages two private equity portfolios for the state pension fund.

The Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.’s target allocation to private equity is 6%, with a range of 1% to 11 percent. The actual private equity allocation stood at 2.3 percent, as of May 31. Private equity commitments made in 2008 include those to Blackstone Capital Partners VI; Candover 2008; CVC European Equity Partners V; First Reserve XII; Madison Dearborn Capital Partners VI; Onex Partners III; Sentinel Fund IV; and TPG Partners VI. —Nancy Gordon