Calpers funding chief resigns after 18 months at $400bn fund

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Ben Meng, the funding chief of the $400bn Californian worker pension fund, has resigned days after a weblog revealed allegations that he had made incomplete public disclosures about his private investments.

Calpers stated late on Wednesday that Mr Meng, who joined the US’s largest public sector pension fund early final yr, would go away instantly. Dan Bienvenue, Mr Meng’s deputy, was named interim chief funding officer.

An individual near Calpers stated Mr Meng had been “brought down” after the Naked Capitalism web site revealed allegations that the manager had failed to totally adjust to the California Fair Political Practices Commission in relation to monetary disclosure paperwork.

Elected officers and public staff in California who make influential selections are required to submit a press release of financial curiosity, also called a Form 700.

“The fact that Ben could not be bothered to fill it [Form 700] out correctly or amend it when the errors were first identified is a serious breach,” the individual stated.

Naked Capitalism alleged that Mr Meng had private investments in personal fairness teams the place Calpers was additionally an investor, elevating the prospect of conflicts of curiosity.

Mr Meng instructed the FT: “I have disclosed all of my financial holdings on the applicable Form 700s.” He declined to remark additional on the topic.

“My health has been deteriorating for six months,” he stated, including his abrupt resignation allowed for a “quicker and cleaner transition” to Mr Bienvenue.

Mr Meng took the highest funding job at Calpers in January 2019 after leaving China’s $3tn State Administration of Foreign Exchange, the company that manages the nation’s capital account. The China-born American had beforehand labored at Calpers because the fund’s funding director for asset allocation.

To meet an formidable 7 per cent annual efficiency goal, Mr Meng led a push into personal fairness and personal debt. These property can produce larger returns however realising them throughout instances of market stress will be tough.

In its 2019/20 fiscal yr, the Calpers portfolio returned 4.7 per cent.

“Leverage will increase the volatility of returns but Calpers’ long-term horizon should enable us to tolerate this,” Mr Meng instructed the Financial Times in June.

Mr Meng had drawn criticism for a plan to extend the fund’s leverage to 20 per cent of its worth utilizing debt and monetary devices corresponding to fairness futures. One board member, Margaret Brown, voted towards the plan, saying it reminded her of the fund’s mis-steps through the 2008 monetary disaster.

Mr Meng had been introduced in to scale back a shortfall in property, which just lately totalled 71 per cent of the quantity essential to fulfil projected payouts to the 1.9m public employees served by Calpers.

Calpers has been marked by government turnover in recent times. The fund didn’t have a head of personal fairness for 2 years till Greg Ruiz joined in May 2019. Elisabeth Bourqui left as chief working funding officer in January final yr after eight months on the fund.


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