Dale Kasler reports in Sunday’s Sacramento Bee that CalPERS is “rethinking” its ties to Pacific Corporate Group of La Jolla, which screened private equity deals for the pension fund for the past 20 years.
For 20 years, when CalPERS needed advice on a big investment, it often called on Christopher Bower, founder and chief executive of a firm called Pacific Corporate Group.
Now this confidant from La Jolla might get pulled into the bribery scandal at the nation’s largest public pension fund.
Alfred Villalobos, the man at the heart of the scandal, worked on deals for Bower. And when CalPERS was thinking of firing Bower’s firm in early 2007, Villalobos – a former CalPERS board member – stepped in and negotiated a delicate agreement that saved the relationship.
Months later, Pacific Corporate advised CalPERS on two investments that earned Villalobos fees totaling $17 million.
Bower never hid his relationship with Villalobos. He sent CalPERS a letter about it before the investments with Villalobos’ clients were made. CalPERS concluded the arrangement was fine.
As of June 30, the firm no longer screens deals for CalPERS, ending a role it filled since 1990.
“Their contract expired and it was allowed to lapse,” said CalPERS spokesman Brad Pacheco.
Bower’s firm still directly manages about $1 billion of CalPERS’ money. But that’s being examined, too, as part of a larger review of CalPERS’ investment partners, said Joseph Dear, chief investment officer at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.