The nature and size of the investment were surrounded by controversy after the CIM Group pushed for a $250 million investment, and hired two former retirement system directors and a retired state senator to lobby the deal.
CalPERS own investment staff had recommended a more modest investment of $50 million.
State treasurer and board member Phil Angelides warned that the $125 million CIM investment would put CalPERS over its target range for real estate investments, which may hamper the fund’s ability to make other real estate investments. However, most other board members were not swayed by the argument and sought to settle the CIM issue, according to the Sacramento Bee. The vote was 7 to 3.
The CIM California Urban Real Estate Fund targets investments in commercial and residential real estate projects in urban areas throughout California. CalPERS touted the investment as the latest in a series of moves to boost California urban investments in the Fund’s real estate portfolio, which totaled $17 billion as of July 31.
The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) has already committed $125 million to the CIM group, but the money was contingent on CIM getting other investors. The CalPERS commitment will likely meet that condition and attract other investors as well.
The board also decided to delay a decision on the divestiture of tobacco stocks until its October meeting.
Angelides, a strong supporter of the move, filed the motion that the discussion be continued so the CalPERS staff can provide the board with information on becoming a tobacco-product-free pension fund, rather than just selling off domestic tobacco-related equities, as had been proposed.
The fund currently has some $671 million in US tobacco stocks, and another $158.8 million in foreign tobacco holdings.
CalPERS is the nation’s largest public pension fund with assets totaling $177 billion, providing retirement and health benefits to more than 1.2 million state and local public employees and their families.