New York State names interim CIO

The state’s comptroller has appointed the fund’s current assistant controller of real estate, Marjorie Tsang, to serve in the position on an interim basis after the current CIO leaves on Thursday.

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, which is the sole trustee and manager of the $146.5 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, said Raudline Etienne, who has served as chief investment officer of the fund since March 2008, will be vacating her position on 15 September. Etienne is leaving to take a job as senior director at the Albright Stonebridge Group, a Washington, DC-based business consulting and strategy firm co-chaired by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Under Etienne’s direction, “the fund has done well in a very difficult economic climate,” said DiNapoli in a statement. “She has helped to implement major structural changes to how the fund does business, modernised the fund’s operations and has been my partner in making the fund among the most transparent and ethical in the country.”

Assuming the role of CIO on an interim basis is Marjorie Tsang, who currently is the fund’s assistant comptroller for real estate investments. Tsang, who will replace Etienne on 16 September, “has been an integral part of our pension investment and cash management team for nearly two decades, and I have full confidence that she will capably guide the fund during this time of transition,” DiNapoli said.

Overseeing the fund’s $5.5 billion real estate portfolio, Tsang – whom PERE named as one of the 10 most influential women in private real estate investing last year – has executed a number of savvy deals, including the 2001 acquisition of 450 Park Avenue in New York in conjunction with Taconic Investment Partners. The property, acquired for $158 million, was sold in 2007 to Somerset Partners for $509 million.

Tsang, who first joined the New York State Common Retirement Fund in 1993 as assistant counsel for investment transactions, was promoted to assistant comptroller for real estate investments in June 1999. Prior to working at the fund, she was a real estate finance attorney at New York law firms Chadbourne & Parke and Sage Gray Todd & Sims.

The Office of the New York State Comptroller has begun to form a search committee for a new chief investment officer, but it has not yet determined a timetable for making the appointment, a spokesman said.