Data on CalPERS’ private investments, such as venture capital funds, “is not a trade secret and is disclosable”, said California State Judge James Robertson. Additionally, the judge ruled CalPERS’ internal grading of funds, how they are performing relative to expectations, can also be disclosed.
However, names of specific funds and valuations will not have to be revealed, something the San Jose Mercury News had asked for to verify performance in its original lawsuit. CalPERS’ investment partners seeking such confidentiality have up to three weeks to show the court why their data should remain classified.
A request for nondisclosure would require investment partners to prove the information is protected under confidentiality agreements and has not previously been disclosed.
The San Jose Mercury News sued CalPERS last month for access to performance information on the fund’s private investments, claiming the state’s taxpayers and public employees had a right to know. Although previously available from CalPERS, the fund refused the request under the state’s Public Records Act, saying that such data now would “offend the firms it invests in”, and therefore hurt CalPERS’ investor status.
With the ruling, CalPERS will turn over the information requested by the court, according to CalPERS spokeswoman Pat Macht, who also said it is not over because, “the judge provided an opportunity for our managers to come in and explain why these are trade secrets.”