NORTH AMERICA - Virginia Retirement System has doubled the size of its timberland portfolio with the hiring of Hancock Timber Resources Group.

The pension fund has allocated $200m (€163m) of equity to the company.

Virginia made its first foray into timberland in May last year with a $200m allocation to the Molpus Woodlands Group. 

The mandate with Hancock Timber will be a separate account, with all of the capital being supplied by Virginia. 

The manager will have full investment discretion, allowing it to make final investment decisions.

As at the end of 2011, Boston-based Hancock Timber had more than $9bn in assets under management.

Molpus is a timber manager that mostly invests in timber assets in the Southeast, Southwest and East Coast in the US.

Virginia has placed both investments into the $4.2m real assets category of its total investment portfolio. 

The real asset category includes both real estate and timberland among its investment alternatives for this part of its investment portfolio.

Virginia has a 12% cap of total plan assets for the category. 

As at the end of April, the pension fund's overall investment portfolio was worth more than $54.1bn.