MassPRIM Commits

BOSTON, June 5 (Reuters) – Massachusetts' $52.7 billion state pension fund, one of the biggest U.S. public funds, hired several fund managers and allocated more money to private equity funds on Thursday.

Trustees for the fund, called the Pension Reserve Investment Trust, voted to put $675 million into seven private equity funds.

The pension fund was among the first in the U.S. to make big bets on private equity portfolios, which helped boost returns last year. And while performance is expected to decline in the red-hot industry, the Massachusetts fund is still forecasting double-digit returns in this area for this year.

Four funds will each receive $100 million: Tanaska Power Fund II, Quantum Energy Partners V, TCW Crescent Mezzanine Partners V and Avenue Europe Special Situations fund.

Onex Partners III will receive $150 million, American Securities Fund V will receive $75 million and Thoma Bravo IX will receive $50 million.

Separately, the trustees voted to allocate $450 million to T. Rowe Price Group (TROW.O: Quote, Profile, Research) and $450 million to Jennison Associates to invest in timber and natural resources portfolios, which make up roughly 2 percent of the pension fund's total investments.

The trustees also voted to place $270 million with Eaton Vance Corp (EV.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and $270 million with ING Investment Management to invest in bank loan funds.

Like other investors, the Massachusetts fund has been hit hard by recent market turmoil and lost 1.53 percent this year. Bets on U.S. stocks dragged performance down most sharply as these investments lost the fund 6.43 percent.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss, editing by Phil Berlowitz)