EUROPE - Leicestershire County Council Pension Fund is currently conducting a search for managers with experience in either timberland or infrastructure investments, with the aim of investing as much as £130m (€147m) in the asset classes.

The £2.1bn local government pension scheme (LGPS) hopes the mandates will help protect against inflation, investment manager Colin Pratt said.

"The fund's benefits are linked quite closely to inflation, so it is important that the fund target real, rather than nominal, investment returns," he said.

Pratt added that research conducted by Hymans Robertson suggested timber and infrastructure would be well-suited due to their ability to produce "both nominal and real returns in different inflationary environments".

John Hastings of Hymans Robertson said further that the scheme was looking to invest between £25m and £50m in timber, as well as a further £70m in infrastructure projects. Both would preferably be placed within an existing pooled fund.

"In each asset class, we are looking for a single manager who can provide a broad geographical spread of underlying investments," Hastings said.

Interested managers should contact Hymans Robertson's Glasgow office for further details.

Meanwhile, Devon County Council Pension Fund is searching for a fund-of-funds manager to oversee its entire real estate portfolio.

According to the most recent annual report for the £2.4bn local authority scheme, it invests in more than a dozen property trusts, including the Aviva Pooled Property fund, as well as Threadneedle and Hermes' Property Unit Trust.

The fund-of-funds manager will be asked to oversee the entire £133m portfolio, in addition to overseeing a doubling in size of the mandate.

Devon noted that, in addition to the 13 trusts, the next five quarters would see £20m each made available for further investment, in addition to £20m in cash ready for investment when the manager assumed responsibility.

However, it noted that the exact sum of money would vary depending on market conditions at the beginning of each quarter.

Further information should be requested by 4 July from JLT Benefit Solutions' office in Exeter.

In other news, Shropshire County Pension Fund has awarded a five-year infrastructure mandate to Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP).

As part of the local government scheme's revised strategic asset allocation, it decided in March 2009 to allocate 3% of total assets to the asset class. As a result, GIP will oversee an approximately £30m mandate for the £1bn scheme.

A spokesman for Shropshire confirmed it would be looking to invest in projects globally.

Finally, JP Morgan Worldwide Securities Services has been appointed as global custodian of Bpf GIL, the €500m pension fund for Dutch employees in the wholesale food industry.