UK - Somerset County Council has appointed two new investment managers to run a Japanese equity and a private equity portfolio for its £762m (€848m) pension scheme.

Strathclyde Pension fund has approved its first "new opportunities" investment, while the University of Durham has appointed a pension provider for its defined benefit (DB) scheme.

Somerset County Council has appointed Nomura Asset Management to run a £22.5m (€24.9m) Japanese equity mandate through a segregated fund after it terminated UBS as manager of a Far East equities portfolio over poor performance. (See earlier IPE article: UBS Global AM under renewed pressure following dismissals)

In addition, Somerset County Council has completed its search for a private equity manager to run a £30m active fund of funds mandate after almost two years.

The council initiated a search for a manager in June 2008 as it looked to expand its investment strategy alongside a Global Emerging markets mandate, which was awarded to Pioneer Global Investment in March 2009. (See earlier IPE articles: Environment Agency and Somerset enters searches and South Yorks seeks bonds as Pioneer delivers GEMs in Somerset)

It has now awarded the £30m private equity mandate to Neuberger Berman Europe. According to the minutes of the council's pension fund committee, the procurement process had been "more protracted" because of the nature of the asset class.

The Strathclyde Pension Fund committee has approved the first investment of its 'new opportunities' portfolio to a UK venture and growth capital proposal.

In September the pension fund completes its triennial review of investment strategy, which proposed the creation of a new opportunities portfolio to invest in assets not provided for in the current structure on an opportunistic basis. (See earlier IPE article: Strathclyde completes strategy review)

Glasgow City Council's latest pension committee meeting stated the £9.41bn pension fund had always received a steady stream of new investment opportunities and in the last 12 months had reviewed proposals on investments such as UK venture capital, infrastructure, social housing, direct loan finance and renewable energy.

Following a review by the investment strategy working group of two UK venture and growth capital proposals the committee has now approved a £5m investment in the Panoramic Growth Equity Enterprise Capital Fund I - a Scottish investment business with government funding to invest in UK small and medium enterprises.

Meanwhile, Strathclyde's recent review of adherence to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (UN PRI) in its private equity and property portfolios resulted in the committee agreeing to reinforce its interest in the issue with its private equity managers through continued dialogue and regular reporting of their activity to the committee.

In the case of its property portfolio, which is currently being put out to tender, the committee agreed to request more regular reporting of responsible investing (RI) activity, while also placing further consideration of the application of its RI strategy in its property structure review. (See earlier IPE article: UK roundup - Essex, Strathclyde, Equitable Life and Telent)

Elsewhere the £53.8m University of Durham Retirement Benefits Plan has appointed Aon Consulting to provide a range of pension services.

The seven-year contract will see Aon provide the university's non-USS pension scheme with administration, record management, consultancy, investment and actuarial services. (See earlier IPE article: Durham University tenders pension services)

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