NORTH AMERICA – The Teachers' Retirement System of the State of Illinois plans to expand its co-investment real estate programme as it hires ORG Portfolio Management and Real Asset Portfolio Management to seek out new investment opportunities for the strategy.

Dick Ingram, executive director for the pension fund, said: "These two firms will join our existing pool of investment advisers to help us identify, investigate and finalise co-investment opportunities that will enhance the system's investment programme on behalf of our members. 

"[Illinois Teachers] is expanding its existing co-investment programme in order to capitalise on opportunities that exist in the market."

The pension fund is planning on making co-investments on a global basis, including Europe and the US. 

It currently has a co-investment portfolio valued at $250m (€190m), as of the end of 2012. 

It has not yet determined how much more capital might be invested with this strategy, it said.

Within the Illinois Teachers co-investment programme, the pension fund makes direct investments in a property to complement an existing investment in the same property made as part of a pooled allocation to a multi-property real estate fund.

The pension fund will consider co-investments into all of the main property types of office, industrial, retail, apartments and hotels. 

It stated in an email that it has no specified risk/return requirements, and each investment opportunity will be evaluated as part of an overall diversified portfolio.

Illinois Teachers has a real estate portfolio valued at $4.6bn, as at the end of 2012. 

The asset class represents 12.2% of its $38.1bn of total plan assets. 

The long-term targeted allocation for real estate is 14%.