CalSTRS’ head of infra to retire

Diloshini Seneviratne, who started the California State Teachers’ Retirement System’s (CalSTRS) infrastructure programme in 2010, left the pension fund at the end of June to spend more time with her family and engage in volunteer work. 

“Since 2010, Dilo built the foundation of the CalSTRS infrastructure programme from the ground up,” CalSTRS chief investment officer Christopher Ailman told Infrastructure Investor in an emailed statement. “And she’s been at the forefront of the industry from her initial entry. She has represented CalSTRS admirably in all facets of the programme.” 

In the statement, CalSTRS said it “will be seeking experienced industry experts to fill behind Dilo”, whose official title is portfolio manager for infrastructure, but did not mention replacing her directly.   

Paul Shantic, director of CalSTRS’ inflation-sensitive allocation, which includes infrastructure, said of Seneviratne: “She has served as a thoughtful and patient teacher for both the staff and others in the industry. Dilo is widely respected and admired by both grizzled industry veterans and new entrants. We will miss her and her contributions, but she will leave us with a legacy that we will continue to build upon.” 

Seneviratne began her investment career in Asia and has led public IPOs, worked on public asset privatisations and advised company boards on corporate governance. Prior to joining CalSTRS, she worked for nine years at California Public Employees’ Retirement System, working on real estate and natural resources assets. At CalSTRS, she worked in private equity before leading the infrastructure programme. 

CalSTRS has committed a total of $2.2 billion to infrastructure, although its portfolio had a market value of $1.2 billion as at 31 March, according to CalSTRS documents. The pension has made no new commitments to infrastructure during the first quarter of this year. 

Last year, however, CalSTRS made a significant commitment to French fund manager Ardian’s fourth infrastructure vehicle, helping it reach its €2.65 billion revised hard-cap. Sources told Infrastructure Investor at the time that Ardian had been ready to close the fund last September, but that the closing ended up being extended to accommodate the Californian pension, which reportedly had to validate the commitment through a lengthy internal process.

CalSTRS is the US’ second-largest public pension fund, with assets totaling approximately $188.8 billion as of 31 May 2016. The pension’s inflation sensitive portfolio, of which infrastructure is a part, currently amounts to 0.8 percent of the fund’s portfolio. The majority of its holdings, 57.5 percent, are in equities, with fixed income trailing well behind it at 15.7 percent of CalsTRS’ portfolio. Real estate and private equity are the pension fund’s third- and fourth-largest holdings amounting to 12.7 percent and 10.1 percent respectively. The remainder of CalsTRS’ holdings are invested in cash (1.8 percent) and absolute return investments (1.5 percent).