Fred Buenrostro, CEO of the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), announced his plans to retire by the end of the year and move into the private sector Monday, April 29, just days after CalPERS CIO Russell Read announced he is leaving June 30 to pursue his long-standing interest in environmental and clean-tech investing.
The speculation sparked by those two executive moves led both Buenrostro and CalPERS' board president Rob Feckner to issue statements regarding Buenrostro's departure.
"Media reports that raise a specter of controversy between [CEO Fred Buenrostro] and the board are exaggerated," Feckner declared in a statement. "Anyone who knows CalPERS knows that part of our success as an organization is our willingness to speak frankly and debate the issues. It comes with the territory."
Said Buenrostro, "I want to publicly state what I have told the Board: I have reached a decision to retire from public service. Media speculation about reasons for my departure are unwarranted and incorrect."
Both Buenrostro and Feckner noted that Buenrostro has said for some time he planned to retire soon to pursue a career in the private sector. An exact date for his retirement has not been announced.
In February, CalPERS senior investment officer Christianna Wood stepped down to become CEO of hedge fund Capital Z Asset Management.
There have been media reports that CalPERS is in the middle of an internal debate over whether to require infrastructure projects that receive CalPERS investments to use union employees.
CalPERS, the nation's largest public pension fund, had assets worth $241.7 billion at the end of February invested in a variety of industries, including real estate. CalPERS, through MH Housing Partners, is an investor in LandSource, a land bank with large California holdings hit hard by the failing home building market. Recently, LandSource's lenders sent it a letter of default for a loan taken out a year ago to buy a good share of Lennar and LNR's interest in the land bank.
CalPERS also has investments in other real estate interests that are suffering from the downturn, including Standard Pacific and Hearthstone.