Wirth Tapped to Head CalSTRS PE Portfolio

March 17, 2010 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – Margot Wirth has been named to head the $17 billion private equity portfolio of the nation’s second largest public pension plan.

California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) officials have announced that Wirth, who joined CalSTRS in 2001 as an investment officer, coming from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP where she was a manager and senior analyst in the corporate valuation consulting group, started her new duties this week.  She will direct a staff of 20 who manage the private equity portfolio, which accounts for 12.7% of the $132.6 billion CalSTRS investment portfolio (as of February 28, 2010).    

Wirth was named an interim co-director of private equity in February 2009.

The private equity staff manages a portfolio consisting of private equity limited partnerships managed by external general partners and direct side-by-side co-investments. According to the announcement, the system’s private equity staff also manages the Credit Enhancement Program (CEP), which underwrites municipal transactions on an opportunistic basis and is managed internally.       

“Margot emerged as the best choice to bring the private equity portfolio through the treacherous waters of the financial crisis, following a year-long director search,” said CalSTRS Chief Investment Officer Christopher J. Ailman. “Her years of experience, knowledge of CalSTRS operations and great relationships with both investment staff and our private equity partners will position the portfolio for further growth as the economy picks up steam.”

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System is the second largest public pension fund in the United States. It administers retirement, disability and survivor benefits for California’s 833,000 public school educators and their families from the state’s 1,400 school districts, county offices of education and community college districts.