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CalPERS' Investment Chief to Join London Pension Manager

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (HedgeWorld.com)–The man behind the largest U.S. pension fund’s adoption of “absolute return” strategies is leaving the California Public Employees’ Retirement System to make his mark at a leading U.K. pension fund manager.

Mark J. P. Anson will succeed Tony Watson as chief executive at Hermes Pensions Management Ltd. Mr. Watson will be retiring at the end of January from Hermes, a pension fund investment management firm.

Hermes invests more than 58 billion pounds sterling (US$103 billion) on behalf of more than 220 institutional investors, including pension funds and insurance companies. It is owned by BT Pension Scheme, which also is its largest client.

Mr. Anson has written extensively on the use of absolute-return strategies in pension fund portfolios and more specifically on how to manage risk in highly diversified fund shops.

He had been at CalPERS for two years when officials started to seriously consider hedge funds, with intentions of adding a US$1 billion hedge fund mandate. At the time, Mr. Anson was a senior investment officer for domestic and international public equity. When the hedge fund program began to take off in late 2001, he was promoted to chief investment officer.

Last year, the CalPERS hedge fund investments beat the pension fund’s benchmark with a return of 8.9%. CalPERS trustees oversee US$195 billion in investments.

Before CalPERS, Mr. Anson had stints at Oppenheimer Funds and Salomon Brothers. Officials at Hermes said they are looking forward to the different perspective he will bring to the firm.

“He has the ability to think strategically; he has built a team at CalPERS which has delivered outstanding investment performance and has driven the organization forward into new asset classes and he has built up a significant number of third-party mandates,” said Richard Bernays, chairman of Hermes, in statement.

Mr. Anson will be relocating his family to the United Kingdom. The CalPERs board will discuss the next steps in finding a new CIO at their next regularly scheduled board meeting next month. According to the pension fund’s representative, Brad Pacheco, Mr. Anson is expected to assume his new role at Hermes in early January.

Contact Bob Keane with questions or comments at [email protected].