GLOBAL - The New York-based Teachers Insurance and Annuities Association-College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF), the second largest retirement plan in the US with assets of $435bn, is considering co-operating with European pension funds.

Brett Hammond, senior managing director and chief investment strategist at the fund, told IPE: "There is nothing concrete to say at this point, but one of the things that we are very interested in is learning about what like-minded organisations are doing."

According to Hammond, an example of such a co-operation is TIAA-CREF's joint real estate investment initiative with the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), which the two funds launched last year.

"We have been doing some meetings, talking to our counterparts," added Hammond, explaining these counterparts' principal orientation is towards the customers that they serve, as in public pension funds and other not-for-profit investors.

The organisation would like to exchange ideas about new initiatives, from which its "core", its higher education non profit pension business, could benefit.

"Co-operation can start with an exchange of views and individual conversation as well," said Hammond.

Earlier this month, Hammond and his colleague Douglas Fore, the director of portfolio analytics in the asset management department of TIAA-CREF,  attended a pension conference in the Netherlands.

 "The Dutch pension funds are very sophisticated when it comes to a wide range of investment management, in terms of alternatives or emerging markets, and this could be something that we'd converse about," said Hammond.

As yet there is no formal mechanisms, but TIAA-CREF says it has conversations with pension funds all over the world.

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