Washington Posts Private Equity Data on New Web Site

July 7, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The Washington State Investment Board has launched a newly redesigned web site to improve access to information about its investments, including expanded information about the private equity investments of the system.

The Washington State Investment Board (WSIB), which manages about $49 billion in assets for 33 separate state retirement and public funds, says its  new site  will now offer links to monthly, quarterly, and annual financial performance reports including the Investment Rate of Return (IRR) report for the WSIB’s private equity and venture capital program.

Private “Parse”

The availability of detailed information about private equity investments in state retirement systems was a focal point of a controversy involving California’s two largest public funds, The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and California Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), late last year.   At that time, the San Jose Mercury News sued CalPERS for access to performance information on the fund’s private investments, claiming the state’s taxpayers and public employees had a right to know (see  CalPERS to Go Public With Private Equity Info ).  

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.   The system relented on its initial position, with some restrictions, earlier this year (see  CalPERS OKs Private Equity Disclosures ).   Eventually, CalPERS agreed to publish internal rates of return (IRR’s) for its funds and fund of funds, and amounts of cash invested and profits realized from that cash invested (see  CalPERS Starts Quarterly Private Equity Data Release Schedule ).     

Site Map

Roughly 11.6% of the WSIB system’s assets were invested in private equity as of March 31, some $5.5 billion.   However, more than 15% of the system’s retirement assets were invested in private equity at that time, based on their web site.   Since the October 1981 inception through December 31, 2002, WSIB’s Private Equity Portfolio has generated $3.9 billion in profits, according to their web site.   Regarding the private equity data, WSIB notes that, although it is updated quarterly, there is generally a two-quarter lag in reporting this performance information due to the time allowed and necessary to compile and corroborate the financial data. Therefore, December 31, 2002, is the most recent performance information available on WSIB’s private equity portfolio, according to the WSIB.

In addition to the private equity data, the WSIB says its new site offers:

  • fresh content written to match the interests of various audiences, including financial/investment experts and members of the state pension plans.
  • more information about the 15 members who serve on the Investment Board, their background, responsibilities, and fiduciary duties
  • agendas and minutes of the Board and Committee meetings (links to electronic copies of meeting handout materials will be available in the future)

The WSIB private equity IRR report is online at http://www.sib.wa.gov/assets/privateequityportfolio.htm