NYSTRS Names Insider As Its New PE Chief

The $91 billion New York State Teachers’ Retirement System named John Virtanen as its new head of private equity, according to a spokeswoman for NYSTRS. Virtanen replaces Dhvani Shah, who left in late 2011 to become chief investment officer at the $28 billion Illinois Municipal Retirement System.

Since Shah left, the private equity team has reported directly to Thomas Lee, NYSTRS’s executive director and its chief investment officer, according to spokeswoman Heidi Brennan in an e-mailed message to Buyouts, peHUB’s sister magazine. Virtanen hasn’t previously overseen private equity at NYSTRS, Brennan said.

NYSTRS’s $7.2 billion private equity portfolio consists of buyouts, venture capital and special situation vehicles. Overall, the portfolio amounted to 8.2 percent of NYSTRS’s assets as of Dec. 2012, above the pension’s 7 percent target allocation. NYSTRS began investing in private equity in 1999.

A veteran of NYSTRS who first joined in 1977, Virtanen assumes his new role after having served, since 2005, as the managing director of the pension’s $15 billion real estate portfolio. That role, according to NYSTRS, will now go to David Gillen, who had been a manager in the pension’s real estate group since 2007.

NYSTRS pays out roughly $5 billion a year to its 150,000 beneficiaries.

Gregory Roth is a senior editor at Buyouts Magazine. Any opinions expressed here are entirely his own. Follow him on Twitter @RothReuters. Follow Buyouts tweets @Buyouts.

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