UK - The £1bn (€1.2bn) Clwyd Pension Fund is to expand into frontier markets, with its administering authority tendering a £7m mandate.

The local authority fund for a number of Welsh councils - already highly diversified through a 42% exposure to alternative assets ranging from timberland through hedge funds and infrastructure - has asked bfinance to assist with manager selection for the mandate.

According to the tender notice, the equity-focused strategy will not limit itself to the one asset class, with investments in both debt and property considered.

Flintshire County Council, the fund's administering authority, declined to comment further on the mandate.

MSCI's frontier market index currently includes countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Vietnam and Pakistan, as well as countries in Europe such as Croatia, Estonia and Lithuania.

According to its most recent annual report, Clwyd limits all outsourced mandates to pooled vehicles, with real estate and private equity investments handled in-house through a team of nearly 40 managers.

At the end of March last year, the local authority fund invested 7% in emerging market equity, with 43% of assets overall invested in equities, 42% in alternative assets and the remaining 15% in fixed income.

Clywd recently won the award for best real estate investment at the IPE Awards in Brussels, recognising its expansion into infrastructure and niche properties such as UK caravan parks.

In other news, the local authority fund for Essex County Council has appointed a manager to its £60m timberland portfolio, first tendered early last year.

The £3.4bn scheme has appointed Stafford Timberland Group from a shortlist of eight applicants, with the tender not disclosing the contract's length.

Essex currently limits its alternatives exposure to infrastructure, private equity, loans and real estate, accounting for around a quarter of its overall assets.

A further 13% is held in fixed income and the remaining 63% in equities.