French pension fund Agirc-Arrco has awarded Russell Investments a mandate to restructure one of its euro-zone equity portfolios.

The scheme enlisted Russell’s help to shift the portfolio to a number of euro-zone SRI equity funds.

It is not the first time the French scheme has awarded the asset manager a transition mandate.

Philippe Goubeault, financial director at Agirc-Arrco, said: “In 2012, [we] had already used [Russell] as a transition manager to restructure part of our euro-zone equity investments. It seemed useful to extend this first experiment.”

Dominique Dorlipo, chairman at Russell Investments France, said: “For the 2012 operation, we were asked for a partial or total liquidation of assets, so we only focused on best execution for a list of securities for sale. This operation was different, as it required us to act as a responsible asset manager of the assets, with a special approval from the AMF.”

In 2013, Agirc-Arrco shifted approximately €230m out of a CCR AM fund, distributing €150m to a number of SRI funds and investing the remaining €80m in an actively managed EDRAM equity fund.

“Using a transition manager is worth the effort in a low-yield environment, where every basis point helps improve final performance and thus protect pensions,” Dorlipo said. “Two different euro-zone equity portfolios are likely to have 20-40% of their assets in the same stocks. For European equities, an institutional investor could typically pay a transaction cost of 12-20 basis points or more.”

Such costs are avoided when a transition manager orchestrates securities transfers between old and new managers without selling and buying them back, he said.