Ben Meng has been selected as the new chief investment officer for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), the system’s CEO Marcie Frost announced Monday in a press release.
Meng, 48, had been serving as the deputy CIO at the State Exchange of Foreign Administration in China, which manages the country’s foreign exchange reserves. He is a US citizen born in China.
Meng had previously worked at CalPERS in the investment office. His last role was investment director of asset allocation for the $360 billion pension system. He left CalPERS in 2015 after a seven-year tenure. He has worked for the Chinese government agency for the last three years.
His start date has not been determined, the release says.
Meng replaces CIO Ted Eliopoulos, who announced he is leaving by the end of the year because of family issues.
His appointment comes at a critical time for CalPERS, the largest US pension system. The system is only 71% funded and its own investment staff and consultants say the next decade will bring lower returns of 6.2% on average, below the 7% CalPERS expects to earn on annualized basis.
CalPERS is also hoping to start a $20 billion direct private equity organization, the first of its kind by a US public pension plan, by the beginning of 2019.
Meng was not at the CalPERS investment committee meeting on Monday. Eliopoulos said he was in China and would travel to the US as soon as possible to meet CalPERS staff and board members.