Mass PRIM to search for real estate separate account manager

Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management Board (Mass PRIM) is planning to hire a fifth separate account manager to help manage its $6.4bn (€5.39bn) real estate portfolio.

According to a board meeting document, the pension fund will soon issue a request for proposal (RFP) for a manager to oversee an initial allocation of between $300m and $500m.

The new manager will invest in core real estate – and to a limited extent non-core real estate – and will join its existing roster, which comprises JP Morgan Asset Management, LaSalle Investment Management, AEW and Invesco Real Estate.

Mass PRIM staff plan to present their recommendations at the pension fund’s committee and board meetings in February next year.

The RFP will come soon after the pension fund carried out an evaluation of core real estate markets – its first in seven years.

Mass PRIM will look to identify attractive managers and examine current fee structures.

The pension fund believes employing five separate accounts is the best way to manage its directly held real estate porfolio.

It used to have a fifth separate account manager until it dropped TA Associates in August 2015 due to underperformance and staff turnover at the investment manager. AEW took over the portfolio.

The pension fund believes an additional manager will help optimise and diversify its portfolio, and enhance its sourcing and research capabilities.

Mass PRIM also began investing directly outside of the separate accounts last year, using DivcoWest Properties as an adviser.

Earlier this year, Timothy Schlitzer, who oversees Mass PRIM’s real estate and timberland investments, told IPE Real Estate that this approach complemented its separate accounts and “keeps us more in the flow of the market”.

This year it bought two industrial properties for $40m and sold four properties for $250m.

Mass PRIM’s $6.4bn real estate portfolio represents 9.8% of its total assets, close to its 10% target allocation.

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