CalPERS Names Ted Eliopoulos as CIO

America’s largest public pension fund has appointed its interim CIO to lead the $300 billion portfolio permanently.

Ted Eliopoulos has moved from interim CIO to full-fledged investment chief of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. 

He replaces former CIO Joe Dear, who took a leave of absence from the role in January to undergo cancer treatment. Dear passed away the following month. 

Eliopoulos continued as the acting CIO until recruitment firm Korn/Ferry completed its global search for a new investment head. 

“Ted distinguished himself during the selection process as the best candidate for this position,” said Rob Feckner, president of CalPERS’ board. “He has the intellect, temperament, leadership ability, and investment experience necessary to succeed in this position—qualities he has consistently demonstrated during the past year in his role as interim CIO. I look forward to continue working with Ted in this role and congratulate him on this achievement.”

Eliopoulos, 50, joined the pension fund in January 2007 as the senior investment officer responsible for CalPERS’ $26 billion portfolio of real assets. Prior to that, he spent four years at the California State Treasurer’s Office, starting at deputy treasurer in 2002 and then advancing to chief deputy treasurer. 

He has already presided over one major—and to many, startling—change to the $300 billion portfolio: On Monday, the fund announced it will close its hedge fund program and unwind the $4 billion currently invested over the next 12 months. 

“We are always examining the portfolio to ensure that we are efficiently and cost-effectively achieving our risk-adjusted return goals,” Eliopoulos explained of the move. “Hedge funds are certainly a viable strategy for some, but at the end of the day, when judged against their complexity, cost, and the lack of ability to scale at CalPERS’ size, the absolute return strategies program is no longer warranted.” 

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