CalPERS today severed its ties with Pacific Corporate Group, a longstanding investment advisor that had close ties to the man accused of bribing CalPERS officials.
The big pension fund said Pacific Corporate Group, based in La Jolla, would no longer manage more than $1 billion worth of money for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. Pacific Corporate Group has been working for CalPERS since 1990.
Pacific Corporate is being replaced by two firms, Aviva Capital LLC and Capital Dynamics.
Earlier this year, Pacific Corporate lost its job advising CalPERS on investments proposed by others. But until today the La Jolla firm was still managing several CalPERS portfolios, including one dedicated to clean-tech.
The pension fund wouldn’t explain its decision to fire Pacific Corporate. But the firm had close ties to Alfred Villalobos, the Nevada businessman accused in a lawsuit of bribing three former CalPERS officials in an effort to steer investments to his clients.
CalPERS is saying goodbye to PCG’s founder, Christopher Bower, but the giant California pension fund is sticking with PCG Corporate Partners, now known as KMCP Advisors, which was headed by Timothy Kelleher and Douglas Meltzer and ran private equity funds for PCG. Kelleher and Meltzer recently sued their boss, Christopher Bower, for withholding more than $2 million in pay:
Dale Kasler reports in Sunday’s Sacramento Bee that CalPERS is “rethinking” its ties to Pacific Corporate Group of La Jolla, which screened private equity deals for the pension fund for the past 20 years.
For 20 years, when CalPERS needed advice on a big investment, it often called on Christopher Bower, founder and chief executive of a firm called Pacific Corporate Group.
Now this confidant from La Jolla might get pulled into the bribery scandal at the nation’s largest public pension fund.
Alfred Villalobos, the man at the heart of the scandal, worked on deals for Bower. And when CalPERS was thinking of firing Bower’s firm in early 2007, Villalobos – a former CalPERS board member – stepped in and negotiated a delicate agreement that saved the relationship.
Months later, Pacific Corporate advised CalPERS on two investments that earned Villalobos fees totaling $17 million.
Bower never hid his relationship with Villalobos. He sent CalPERS a letter about it before the investments with Villalobos’ clients were made. CalPERS concluded the arrangement was fine.
As of June 30, the firm no longer screens deals for CalPERS, ending a role it filled since 1990.
“Their contract expired and it was allowed to lapse,” said CalPERS spokesman Brad Pacheco.
Bower’s firm still directly manages about $1 billion of CalPERS’ money. But that’s being examined, too, as part of a larger review of CalPERS’ investment partners, said Joseph Dear, chief investment officer at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.