US - Ohio's State Teachers' Retirement System (STRS) is searching for a new investment consultant after Russell Investment Group announced it did not plan to extend its contract beyond June 2009.

The pension fund's board announced in its March meeting that the new firm or firms will act as adviser for the pension fund's real estate, alternative and financial assets, which include equities and fixed income.

Russell Investment Group has agreed to a contract extension through to December 2009 to complete several investment projects and to allow the pension fund time to select a new investment consultant.

Ohio Teachers, which allocates 12.5% to real estate, has called for requests for proposals to be submitted this month, and the board then expects to select a new investment consultant in October 2009.

As of June 2008, Ohio Teachers had $72.6bn (€53.5bn) in assets under management, of which $9.122m were held in real estate investments.

The real estate portfolio returned 18.92% for fiscal year 2008 compared to the benchmark's return of 5.50% and was driven by property-level fundamentals rather than capital markets.

Price appreciation declined, however, as investors became increasingly wary about investing and the market situation deteriorated.

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