Illinois State Board of Investment is making its first commitment to an exclusively European-focused real estate fund, and it could make more investments in the region in the future.

The pension fund approved a commitment of $30m (€22m) to the Ares European Real Estate Fund IV, a fund whose manager Ares Management this week acquired an office park next to Brussels airport.

Bill Atwood, executive director for Illinois State, said: “There were two main reasons we were looking to expand into Europe. One was to achieve an additional layer of diversification for our overall portfolio. We also think that this investment gives us the chance to achieve higher returns.”

Atwood added: “At our board meetings in September and December of this year, I would expect we would be looking at making additional commitments into real estate. These could be for investing in commingled funds seeking investments in either the United States or Europe.”

Ares Management is seeking to raise $1bn for Fund IV, which is expected to be most active in the UK and Germany, and selectively in France. It will also consider central Europe including Poland and the Czech Republic.

The fund manager acquired Pegasus Park in Belgium for €83.4m this week, although it was not confirmed whether acquisition of the business park was for Fund IV. The property was sold by listed real estate investment trust (REIT) Segro.

The investment in the Ares fund was part of a wider $185m of new real estate and infrastructure commitments by Illinois State Board, including $30m to the Oaktree Real Estate Debt Fund.

The fund will invest in CMBS, first mortgages, subordinated secured debt and mezzanine and corporate debt on a global basis.

Illinois State Board also invested $125m in the IFM Global Infrastructure Fund, an open-ended vehicle managed by IFM Investors.

The fund will make infrastructure investments in the US and Europe, including utilities, transport and telecoms assets.