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Calpers CEO resigns after less than 18 months in a $ 400 billion fund

Calpers ‘chief investment officer has resigned after less than 18 months in the top job at the United States’ largest public pension fund.

Calpers, the $ 400 billion California Retirement Fund, said late Wednesday that Ben Meng would take effect immediately. The fund said Dan Bienvenue, deputy chief investment officer, would act as interim chief investment officer because it looked like a permanent successor.

Mr. Meng took on the role of Chief Investment Officer in January 2019 after serving as an alternate member of China’s State Foreign Administration of $ 3 tons, the agency that manages the country̵

7;s capital account. The Chinese-born American had previously worked at Calpers as the fund’s investment director for asset allocation.

To achieve an ambitious annual profit target of 7 percent, Mr. Meng led to private capital and private debt. These assets can provide higher returns but it can be difficult to realize these during times of market stress.

“Leverage will increase the volatility of returns, but Calper’s long-term horizon should allow us to tolerate this,” Meng said in an interview with the Financial Times last month.

Mr Meng had recently criticized a plan to increase the fund’s leverage to 20 percent of its value using loans and financial instruments such as equity futures. A board member, Margaret Brown, voted against the plan, saying it reminded her of the fund’s mistakes during the 2008 financial crisis.

Mr Meng said in a statement published on Calper’s website that he was “proud” of his work in the fund but “right now it’s important for me to focus on my health and my family and move on to the next chapter in my life”. .

Mr Meng had been brought in to turn around a shortage of assets, which recently amounted to 71% of the amount needed to meet the estimated payout to the 1.9 million civil servants served by Calpers.

Calpers has been characterized by executive sales in recent years. The fund did not have a head of private equity for two years until Greg Ruiz joined in May 2019. Elisabeth Bourqui left her head of operational investments in January last year after eight months in the fund.

Meng did not respond to a request for comment.

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