UK - The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) is seeking investment managers to take advantage of opportunities in the secondary private equity market. It is also re-tendering its global custody contract while the London Borough of Tower Hamlets is seeking a multi-asset passive investment manager.

The PPF, which currently has around £3.6bn (€4bn) in assets, is looking to establish a framework agreement for around six fund managers to provide "quick access" to the secondary private equity (PE) marketplace and allow flexibility of investment.

The search follows the recent appointment of seven global equity managers at the end of 2009, as the PPF explained the move into the new asset class is part of its plan to explore ways to enhance its investment strategy, particularly as the PPF grows in size. (See earlier IPE article: PPF appoints global equity managers)

A spokeswoman said: "We regard PE secondaries as a near-term opportunity with a limited window, which is why we are acting now. However, any investment in this area is not yet a given. It will only take place if we can find sufficiently attractive opportunities. If we do decide to invest in PE we will continue to follow a low risk philosophy overall."

The organisation added that the time period for tender submissions had been shortened as the economic crisis had resulted in "particular opportunities in the PE secondary market" - where existing private equity investors have made cash commitments they are struggling to meet so need to sell on their interests.

The PPF noted: "Our strong cashflow brings the possibility of making these investments at attractive prices. We expect this to be to the advantage of the PPF's stakeholders."

That said, the PPF said it was difficult to specify an exact amount to be allocated to the investment strategy because any investments in the asset class would only be made if they were "sufficiently attractive".

Meanwhile, the PPF is also re-tendering a five-year global custody contract, as its existing mandate with State Street will expire in July 2010.

The closing date for the secondary private equity managers is 8 January 2010, while the tender for the global custodian will close on 10 February 2010. Further information on both tenders can be obtained from the PPF procurement department.

Elsewhere the London Borough of Tower Hamlets is seeking a multi asset passive investment manager to run an initial portfolio of UK equities, valued at £60-70m, with the potential of a further mandate worth £45-55m of index-linked gilts.

The council - which agreed at a pension committee meeting in November 2009 to award an active bonds portfolio to Investec Asset Management - has also admitted the mandate could be further expended in the future to "encompass other asset classes". (See earlier IPE article: Tower Hamlets offers bond portfolio after restructure)

The closing date for the tender is 12 February 2010, and further information is available from Hymans Robertson.

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