EUROPE – The Shropshire County Pension Fund has appointed a new hedge fund manager, seeding the mandate with £55m (€63m).

The £1bn local authority scheme first announced the tender in January, at the time not saying whether the new manager would be a replacement for Man Investments.  

Man is currently responsible for a £55m hedge fund portfolio for the scheme that, according to minutes from a November pensions committee meeting, the company was "very aware" had underperformed.

Out of 30 applicants, Bevan Howard Asset Management, following the tender, has been named as the fund's latest multi-strategy hedge fund manager.

Bevan Howard beat rival BlueCrest Capital Management, which also gave a presentation to a June pensions committee meeting.

Questions to the pension fund to confirm the size of Bevan Howard's mandate, and whether the company will replace Man Investments, went unanswered.

Shropshire currently also employs BlackRock as a hedge fund manager, with the company responsible for a £5m mandate.

In other news, BNP Paribas Investment Partners has been appointed by France's Caisse des Dépôts to manage a debt fund targeting investment in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

In a statement, BNP said the fund – backed by Caisse and the French Federation of Insurance Companies – was a "major step" in launching a €1bn fund in the country.

The fund will offer long-term financing solutions to French SMEs, with capital provided by 17 local insurers.

Lastly, following the announcement that the Irish National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) – soon to become the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund – would invest €200m in an SME credit fund managed by BlueBay Asset Management, it has been announced that the fund has met its capital-raising target of €450m.

NPRF chairman Paul Carty said: "This is the largest of the NPRF's suite of SME-focused funds and an essential complement to the equity and restructuring funds launched earlier this year. We are very pleased to see strong domestic and international investor participation."

The fund will look to lend to large Irish SMEs and mid-sized businesses in the country.