Mullan returns to CalPERS, expands infrastructure team

The $200bn pension’s senior portfolio manager for infrastructure investments had to return to Canada due to visa and immigration issues but has now resumed his position. He now has two additional portfolio managers under him, Christine Yokan and Todd Lapenna.

After several months of hiatus, Randall Mullan has returned to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System to resume his position as the $199.4 billion pension fund’s senior portfolio manager for infrastructure investments.

Mullan was appointed to his position in September 2008. However, after working at the pension for about five months, he had to return to Canada due to visa and immigration issues, according to a friend familiar with the situation. Those issues have now been resolved.

Mullan was formerly the head of private placements at the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, a funds manager for public pensions and investment trusts in the western Canadian province.

Upon his return, the Canadian found his office populated with two additional members. Christine Yokan and Todd Lapenna joined the infrastructure team at the beginning of September as portfolio managers and will report directly to Mullan, according to pension documents.

Yokan most recently served as vice president of equity investment for energy and real estate at GE Commercial Finance and has an MBA from the Tuck Business School at Dartmouth University, according to her profile on professional networking site LinkedIn. Prior to joining CalPERS, Lapenna served as senior vice president at RBS Global Banking and Markets in New York City, according to LinkedIn.

The infrastructure team ultimately reports to Farouki Majeed, a senior investment officer who joined the pension from the Abu Dhabi Retirement Pensions and Benefits Fund, where since 2004 he had served as the emirate pension’s first chief investment officer. He is helping CalPERS implement its inflation-linked asset class investment programme, which is comprised of infrastructure as well as commodities, inflation-linked bonds and forestland.

CalPERS’ inflation-linked portfolio allocation is 5 percent. Within that allocation, infrastructure assets have the flexibility to move to as much as 3 percent of the overall portfolio value. As of 30 June, the inflation-linked portfolio allocation stood at 2.5 percent of the total fund, or $4.48 billion. That percentage is equal to the pension’s interim target for the second quarter of 2009, according to pension documents.

Within that, infrastructure exposure stood at $99 million invested and $400 million committed as of 30 June, according to the same pension documents. The documents also say that new investments are under consideration.

A spokesperson for the pension said in an email that CalPERS is reviewing a number of infrastructure transactions but declined to comment on a time line for when those commitments might be made.

The considerations of new infrastructure investments also coincides with an ongoing search for an infrastructure consultant for the pension. Early last month, the pension shortlisted four firms vying for the role: Meketa Investment Group, Pension Consulting Alliance, R.V. Kuhns & Associates and Wilshire Consulting.

The pension’s next investment committee meeting is scheduled for 16 November, according to the CalPERS website.