EUROPE - The £1.2bn (€1.4bn) Falkirk County Council pension scheme has appointed a brace of new managers as part of a move to a more diversified investment strategy.

Credit Suisse has been selected as manager of a global fund of funds infrastructure brief, beating shortlisted rivals Partners Group, Pantheon Ventures and Macquarie.

Meanwhile, Baillie Gifford will run a multi-asset absolute return fund, having pipped Baring Asset Management, Newton Investment Management and Standard Life to the post.

The Scottish local authority scheme did not disclose the size of Baillie Gifford and Credit Suisse's portfolios, but, as part of the investment strategy overhaul, Falkirk plans to allocate 10% to absolute return mandates and 5% to infrastructure.

Funds will be diverted to alternative asset classes from existing equity and bond holdings.

Equities will now account for 60% rather than 70% of the total fund, while bonds will fall from a 15% to a 10% allocation.

The alternative asset mandates follow Falkirk's earlier appointment of Aberdeen Asset Management as manager of a global equity portfolio worth 15% of the total fund assets. 

The new account was funded from a reduction in the level of Legal & General Investment Management's passive equity mandate from 35% to 20%.

Falkirk is advised by Hymans Robertson.

In other news, the UK National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) is looking for a manager to oversee an actively managed sterling corporate bond fund.

The mandate is part of NEST's plan to manage the existing NEST Retirement Date Funds and alternative fund choices.

NEST Retirement Date Funds, which is currently entering the consolidation phase, will start to incorporate the corporate bond fund immediately as one of the building block funds used as they transition from growth assets into retirement income-tracking assets.

Retirement date funds nearing their target dates will not be using this fund, as NEST expects most of the members to take their pot as cash.

After 2018, however, the mandate will be used by all NEST Retirement Date Funds in the consolidation phase.

NEST acknowledged that no investment portfolio could perfectly match the fluctuations in retirement income product rates, but argued that gilts split with corporate bonds remained the best portfolio to track retirement income products.

The successful bid will be announced in spring 2012.

Meanwhile, the pension fund for Hampshire County Council is tendering for a £150,000-200,000 (€175,500) UK property portfolio.

The portfolio, which is re-valued independently each year, will be managed for five years - starting on 6 February 2012 - with an option to extend for a further 1-2 years.

Applicants are required to register and submit their tender documents via the county council's tendering portal and will have until 4 January 2012 to apply.

Another UK pension fund, the defined benefit (DB) scheme of Southern Housing Group, has appointed Capita Hartshead to provide actuarial, consultancy and scheme secretariat services, as well as investment consulting, scheme administration, pensioner payroll and fund accounting.

Alene Wilton, corporate services director at Southern Housing Group, said: "What appealed to us about Capita Hartshead's approach is they co-ordinate service delivery.

They also have a proven track record of working with pension schemes in the social housing sector."

The contract will run over five years in total from 15 December, and the services will be managed from Capita Hartshead's London office in Blackfriars.

Lastly, AMP Capital has secured its first investment from a UK pension scheme, the East Riding of Yorkshire Council Pension Fund, for its infrastructure debt fund.

The vehicle invests in the subordinated debt of essential infrastructure assets.

The fund has completed its third close at €284m, securing six new institutional investors based in the UK and Japan.

The infrastructure debt fund also recently completed its first US investment, securing a $20m (€15m) high-yielding loan to a US-based clean energy generation company with ownership interests in 25 wind projects.