CalPERS names new head of real assets

MSREI’s global head of research returns to the $293 billion pension plan to assume one of the highest-profile positions in private equity real estate.

California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), the largest US pension plan, has hired Paul Mouchakkaa, managing director at Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing (MSREI), as the new senior investment officer (SIO) for real assets. He will assume his new role on March 2, succeeding Ted Eliopoulos, who was elevated to CalPERS chief investment officer last September, following the passing of former CIO Joe Dear in February. 

As head of real assets, Mouchakkaa will oversee a 60-person team and be charged with implementing and managing the investment strategy and policy of the pension plan’s $29.6 billion real assets portfolio globally. He also will serve as part of the senior management team of CalPERS’ investment office in developing the pension plan’s overall investment strategy.  

“Paul is a talented and experienced real estate professional, and we’re thrilled to have him on our team,” said Eliopoulos in a statement. “He has a proven track record of success and I’m confident that will continue at CalPERS.” 

The appointment to one of the highest-profile positions in private equity real estate is a major career leap for Mouchakkaa. The executive, who is based in Los Angeles, currently is global head of research and strategy at MSREI. He joined the New York-based investment bank in November 2011 to assume what was then a newly created position. Prior to MSREI, he was a managing director of real estate consulting services at the Pension Consulting Alliance for more than two years, and had previously worked at the firm as a vice president from 2005 to 2007.  

The SIO role marks a return to CalPERS for Mouchakkaa, who had served as a real estate portfolio manager, overseeing research, operations and analytics for CalPERS’ property portfolio and supervising a 15-member real estate staff. He worked at the pension plan between his two stints at PCA, from 2007 to 2009. 

CalPERS’ real assets program comprises real estate, infrastructure and forestland. Real estate is the largest of the programs, accounting for more than $25 billion in retail, office, industrial and other property types.