UNITED STATES - Officials at the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System have voted to allow investments in public real estate on an international basis.

The pension fund believes international REITs are a good way to get exposure to international real estate, and there are many proven managers that have a strong track record in being able to produce solid investment returns.

More specifically, Ohio PERS is projecting tan international REIT strategy could produce returns in the range of 13-15% - substantially better than in the United States, where a US-only REIT strategy yields a 7-9% return.

The next step for Ohio PERS is to have its investment staff and real estate consultant, The Townsend Group, work on outlining a search process but the process should be made easier as Townsend has a strong data base that follows the REIT industry.

The consultancy now has information on 58 managers with 122 different strategies which could be used either for separate accounts relationships or commingled funds.

The search could therefore be through an RFP or Townsend may recommend which companies should be interviewed but no timetable has been established as to when this could happen.

That said, it is understood the amount touted for allocation would be a minimum of $550m, based on the decisions and comments made at Ohio PERS board meeting on July 16 and 17.

Ohio PERS will be placing capital in international REITs for two of its pension funds - the Defined Benefit Plan and the Health Care Fund.

The pension fund defines international REITs as a strategy that will not be making any investments in companies either based or doing business in the United States.