GLOBAL - Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association (LACERA) has sanctioned investment in real estate debt for the first time. At a board meeting last month, the pension fund staff received the go-ahead to prepare the necessary changes to its real estate strategic plan, allowing for allocations to real estate debt. It's likely that there will be a request for proposal issued during a September board meeting at which the trustees will also determine the amount to be invested. The pension fund believes investing in debt backed by core properties is lower risk given all the equity capital currently trying to buy core assets. The investment strategy under consideration would see LACERA provide new debt on existing core assets, which would be limited to a combination of office, industrial, retail and apartment assets. The pension fund is targeting net returns of 8% or greater on its debt investments, and at least a portion of its strategy would cover investments in the subordinated debt arena. LACERA is also thinking about making investments in debt though a segregated account rather than a commingled fund. The strategy would likely be limited to assets in the United States. The pension fund does have some room in its real estate portfolio for new investments; through the end of June 2010, LACERA had a real estate portfolio valued at $2.9bn (€2.2bn euros) with total plan assets of $33.3bn. This means that the pension fund had invested 8.8% in real estate, while the targeted allocation for the asset class is 10%.