Texas Teachers Fund Hires Harris as CIO

November 10, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The $100-billion Texas Teachers Retirement System (TRS) has tapped the former CEO of a Connecticut investment firm to be its next chief investment officer (CIO).

The TRS board of trustees on Thursday offered the CIO job to T. Britton Harris IV, who has held top money manager positions for Verizon Corp.’s pension plan and at Bridgewater Associates, a global institutional money management firm, according to an Austin American Statement news report. .

His hiring is contingent on completion of salary and benefit negotiations. The job pays about $300,000 a year plus performance bonuses, according to the news report.

Two trustees told the newspaper that Harris’ record of managing funds similar in size to the Texas teacher fund and his reputation as an aggressive investor with expertise in hedge funds and venture capital vaulted him to the top of the list over competitors who had broad experience in managing public assets.

Harris served as president and chief investment officer of Verizon Investment Management Corp., which manages the pensions for the telecommunication company’s employees. At the time Harris left in late 2004, the Verizon plan had $70 billion in assets.

Harris left Verizon Investment to take the CEO position at Bridgewater Associates in Connecticut, a privately owned, $145 billion global investment firm. He left Bridgewater in June 2005 (See Harris Leaves Bridgewater after Seven Months ).

Trustee Philip Mullins, a University of Texas employee, said the board acknowledged that Harris might be a risky hire because of his lack of public experience and reputation in investment circles as a blunt, aggressive manager.“He’s going to shake things up with his organizational style. He has a history of that,” Mullins said.

Harris would replace James Hille, who left the fund in April to take over the endowment at Texas Christian University.

The Texas fund is the state’s largest public pension and is in the top five in the nation.