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U.S. Public Funds Split on Absolute Return Programs

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Once a coveted beat by financial journalists in the 2000s, hedge funds have taken a deep step back, as more U.S. pension funds begin to question the usefulness of hedge fund programs. Hedge funds are facing redemptions everywhere. For example, in 2016, hedge fund titan Richard Perry winded up his hedge fund, Perry Capital, after a 28-year run.

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Some major institutional investor giants such as the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) had decided to shutter hedge funds completely back in 2014. CalPERS was a pioneer in the hedge fund world, being one of the first major institutions to allocate to hedge funds in 2002. Post-2008, CalPERS became disenchanted with its hedge fund portfolio. CalPERS had US$ 4 billion in its Absolute Return Strategies (ARS) program in September 2014. On the other hand, some pension players are still searching for the next best hedge fund. The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) opted to nix absolute returns, and migrate them toward risk-mitigation strategies (essentially not calling out hedge funds as an asset class, but purely as an investment strategy). CalSTRS has around a 9% allocation to risk mitigation strategies, seeking to hedge against volatile listed equities.

New Mexico State Investment Council Considers Dumping Absolute Return Portfolio

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Japan’s GPIF Awards Nissay Asset Management with ESG Disclosure Mandate

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Increasingly asset owners across the Asia-Pacific region are studying the impacts of environmental, social, and governance factors on listed companies. As more Japanese pensions augment asset allocation to listed equities, the importance of corporate non-financial disclosures and practices becomes clear. These disclosures can have a material impression on company stock prices. In addition, Japanʼs Stewardship Code and Corporate Governance Code in 2014 and 2015 were launched, respectively. These codes helped the (environmental, social, and governance) ESG concept gain momentum in Japan.

Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF), the largest public pension fund in the world, awarded a research mandate to Nissay Asset Management Corporation. The mandate entails studying ESG disclosures. The study will conduct a comparable analysis on ESG standards and practices, while taking into account input from both investors and companies. With around US$ 110.5 billion in assets under management, Nissay Asset Management is owned by Japanese life insurance giant Nippon Life Insurance Company.

As GPIF boosted its allocation to domestic equities, the asset owner took a deeper look into the impact of ESG on equity investing. GPIF is keen on improving efficiencies in Japan’s capital markets. GPIF is a universal owner of stocks, similar in some aspects to what Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) does.

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Norges Bank Real Estate Management Buys Central Paris Property

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Norges Bank Real Estate Management, the real estate unit of Norges Bank Investment Management (oversees Norway Global Pension Fund Global), has signed an agreement to acquire a 100 percent interest in an office property located on 54-56 rue la Boétie in central Paris.[ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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Schlumberger Gets Closer to Eurasia Drilling Company

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Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Russian Direct Investment Fund, and American oilfield services giant Schlumberger (SLB) have planned a deal to invest in Russia’s Eurasia Drilling Company Limited. RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev made the announcement. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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