UK - Buckinghamshire County Council has awarded an alternative assets mandate to Partners Group on behalf of its £1bn (€1.17bn) local government pension scheme.

The portfolio, valued at between £45-65m, was put out to tender by the council in July 2008, along with a search for a specialist "core plus" bond manager to run a portfolio valued at £130m, and a manager for a £130m global equity portfolio. (See earlier IPE article: Buckinghamshire seeks three new managers)

Although the council is still engaged in the tender processes for the other managers, Buckinghamshire confirmed it has appointed partners Group to run the alternative assets portfolio following 10 submissions and assessment of criteria such as investment policy and process, portfolio construction and suitability of strategy.

Meanwhile, unaudited figures from the 2008/09 showed that at the end of March 2009 the scheme employed Blackstone Asset Management to run a fund-of-hedge fund  (FoHF) portfolio valued at 5% of the fund, while Pantheon Private Equity was responsible for investing 2% of the fund.

Legal and General Investment Management was also responsible for managing 51% of the fund's assets - of which 19% was in bonds and 32% was in a passive index tracker - while Alliance Bernstein invested 7% of the fund in "less constrained" global equities, a similar portfolio to the 6% mandate held by Standard Life Investments.

Aviva Investors was responsible for Buckinghamshire's property investments, equivalent to 8% of the fund, while 9% was invested in active global equities with Capital International, a further 10% was held in a UK equity mandate run by Mirabaud Investment Management and the final 2% was in a cash/inflation plus, portfolio-managed by Blackrock.
That said, the draft accounts revealed the value of the pension fund lost £200m in the year to 31 March 2009, from £1.207bn to £1.007bn, as the market value of the investments dropped by £256m.

An interim actuarial update of the scheme at the end of March 2009 therefore revealed the funding level had slipped from 81% at the last triennial valuation in March 2007 to 63% two years later.

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