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Northern Irish LGPS hires Unigestion for low-volatility mandate

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The Northern Ireland Local Government Officers Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC) has hired Unigestion as part of an attempt to diversify its investment strategy.

The Swiss asset manager has been put in charge of a £300m (€357m) low-volatility global equity mandate by the £6.3bn local authority fund, the only in Northern Ireland.

David Murphy, chief executive at NILGOSC, said the appointment of Unigestion came as part of an attempt to diversify the fund’s portfolio.

“Like most investors, we are seeking steady returns in difficult times, but we also need to reduce the risk of losses,” he said.

“Unigestion’s Minimum Variance approach will be a key part of our strategy.”

Commenting on its appointment, Tom Leavitt, managing director and Unigestion’s head of institutional clients, added: “In the current era of volatile markets, our strategy meets the needs of pension funds such as Northern Ireland’s local government scheme, and we look forward to supporting the NILGOSC to achieve its investment objectives.”

According to a statement by Unigestion, the company is now among 10 asset managers employed by the NILGOSC, implying the fund has replaced at least one of its previous managers since the 2014-15 financial year.

According to its most recent annual report, covering the 12 months to March 2015, Baillie Gifford was in charge of a UK equity portfolio and a global unconstrained equity portfolio, with a similar unconstrained mandate also overseen by Edinburgh Partners.

Wellington Partners was in charge of global equities, and BlackRock and Jupiter Asset Management were responsible for UK unconstrained equity mandates.

Wellington was further responsible for a bond portfolio equivalent to nearly 4% of assets, while LaSalle Investment Management was responsible for traditional and index-linked property – which, in the 2015-16 financial year, was the best-performing asset class, according to preliminary data released by the NILGOSC.

The fund also has a small infrastructure allocation managed by KKR Global Infrastructure and Antin Infrastructure Partners, while the largest share of the fund’s assets – 43% in 2014-15 – were in passive funds managed by Legal & General Investment Management.

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