Emerging market pension funds ready for Sharia-compliance

Global demand for Sharia-compliant pension funds could reach $190bn, according to the Global Islamic Banking Centre at Ernst and Young (EY).

Ashar Nazim, partner at Global Islamic Banking, EY, speaking to Gulf News, said that emerging markets such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Malaysia are seeing increased demand for retirement plans that are Sharia compliant.

The maturity of the sukuk market and Sharia-compliant equity indexes mean that there are sufficient assets available for many pension funds to begin their Sharia-compliant proposals, he added.

Within the GCC member states, the mainstreaming of Islamic finance means that there will be a boost to demand for pension funds to be inclusive and offer Sharia-compliant retirement alternatives.

Nazim said: “This is, however, the beginning of a long journey. It begs the question whether we have the criteria in place, and the structures and tools to enable the effective management of this emerging asset class. We believe there will be a gradual evolution over the next 18 to 36 months.”

According to Nazim, the challenges facing the shift towards Islamic pension funds include, operational changes, legal and regulatory issues and customer focus.

Search and allocation update: 17 July 2013

Quincy Retirement System seeks small cap emerging market equity managers

The Massachusetts-based Quincy Retirement System is seeking information and proposals from managers for small cap emerging market equity portfolios of approximately US$ 5million. Submitted strategies must have at least a three-year track record and proposals must be for a U.S.-domiciled commingled or mutual fund.

The deadline for proposals is Wednesday 31 July 2013, pm EST. Visit Meketa Investment Group’s Investment Manager Center to download the RFP.

Norwood Retirement System searches for emerging market debt portfolio managers

Massachusetts-based Norwood Retirement System would be pleased to receive information of capabilities and proposals to offer services in managing emerging markets debt portfolios. More specifically, managers to manage local currency strategies for a U.S.-domiciled commingled or mutual fund.

The Board intends to invest approximately US$ 6million, and the bid deadline is Thursday 11 August 2013 at 4pm EST.

Visit Meketa Investment Group’s Investment Manager Center to download the RFP.

$12bn employee pension plan discuss EM equity manager search

Trustees at a Los Angeles pension plan will be discussing the re-launch of a search for emerging markets equity firms.

Last year the US$ 11billion Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System (LACERS) opened a search for active non-U.S. equities emerging markets value managers. The search was intended to fill the emerging market equity target, and the RFP was re-issued in December 2012 after the system failed to receive proposals from emerging asset managers.

Semi-finalists have been selected and completion of the entire search process is expected in Q4 2013.

LACERS is also in the process of an RFP for an Active Emerging Market Debt manager. The RFP was issued in March this year, and semi-finalists have also been selected.

New Hampshire Retirement System agrees to extend emerging market investments with Aberdeen

The committee of New Hampshire Retirement System last month discussed the presentation made by emerging markets small cap investment manager Aberdeen Asset Management at the April committee meeting.

It was suggested the retirement fund extends the investment management relationship with Aberdeen through May 2015, which was carried unanimously.

Search and allocation update: 26 June 2013

Illinois State Board of Investment plans two emerging market manager RFPs

Illinois State Board of Investment plans to issue separate RFPs for active emerging markets debt and active emerging markets small-cap equity managers to run a total of more than US$ 1billion.

Marquette Associates, ISBI’s investment consultant, plans to present recommendations on developing the RFPs at ISBI’s meeting on 27 September, according to William R Atwood, executive director.

The US$ 12.9billion investment board plans to issue the RFPs later this year.

ISBI expects to allocate 4%, or US$ 520million, each for emerging markets debts and emerging markets small-cap equity. The investment board expects to hire one manager for the debt allocation, and it could hire multiple managers for equity.

California-based pension plan search for emerging markets equity firms

The Orange County Employees’ Retirement System (OCERS) outlined in its agenda for a meeting today, that trustees will discuss seeking out firms with emerging markets equity and real estate asset management expertise.

OCERS’ Investment Committee will be advised to conduct two emerging markets equity firms to review the role of AllianceBernstein in the emerging market portfolio, as well as to consider alternative structures to increase the likelihood of outperforming the broad emerging market benchmarks with an appropriate level of risk.

Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System hires AQR Capital for emerging markets equity

Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System, Springfield, hired AQR Capital Management to manage US$ 496million in active emerging markets equity, replacing GMO, which was terminated for under performance of a similar strategy.

Trustees approved the emerging markets manager switch during a board meeting on Thursday 20 June. AQR already manages a total of US$ 1.1billion in risk parity, reinsurance and fixed-income strategies for the US$ 39.6billion pension fund.

Search and allocation update: 5 June 2013

Cornwall County Council PF seeks frontier manager

UK-based Cornwall County Council Pension Fund has issued an RFP for a manager to run a £60 million (US$ 93million) global frontier markets equity portfolio.

The strategy is the £ 1.3billion fund’s first investment in frontier markets equities, and is part of a broader asset allocation review that was completed last July. Funding is likely to come from reducing its active global equities portfolio.

Proposals are due by 14 June, and a selection is scheduled to be announced by the end of the first quarter of 2014.

New Hampshire pension funds commits to new emerging market debt investment

The New Hampshire Retirement System (NHRS) Investment Committee decided last week to fund a new emerging market debt investment with Gramercy, a Connecticut-based money manager.

Newly-issued meeting minutes confirm that the committee approved a new commitment to the 15-year-old firm after hearing from its founder and CIO Robert Koenigsberger.

NHRS Director of Investments Lawrence Johansen and Sean Gill, a partner of alternative assets at investment consultant NEPC, introduced the firm’s emerging market distressed potential. The Gramercy Distressed Opportunity Fund II was suggested for investment.

Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) announces allocation to African private equity funds

The Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) of South Africa has announced the allocation of R 13billion (US$ 1.3billion) for investment in various sectors of the economy in order to boost job-creation and contribute to renewable energy, food security and broad-based black economic empowerment.

This forms part of GEPF’s long-term developmental investment strategy whereby 5% (approximately R 60billion) of its total assets is allocated for investment in commercially viable South African-based projects that will have positive, long-term impacts on development, in addition to providing the financial return expected by the Board.