Report: Church Pension Fund opens in Hong Kong

The New York-based pension fund is opening its first Asian office in Hong Kong and has hired Eric Mason, who was formerly at The Carlyle Group.

The Church Pension Fund, which manages assets of about $8 billion, is opening an office in Hong Kong and has hired Eric Mason to oversee its Asian investments across all asset classes, according to reports.

Mason was formerly the head of The Carlyle Group's Asian leveraged finance business which was shut down in November 2008. Prior to that, he worked for 12 years at JPMorgan, most recently as regional head of leveraged and syndicated finance.

His appointment underscores the Church Pension Fund's commitment to building long-term and lasting relationships with the region's fund managers, William L. Cobb, the pension fund's chief investment officer, told the Episcopal Life Online. He added that Mason's “deep roots in the region and extensive experience” will benefit the pension fund and its investing partners.

The Church Pension Fund has been investing in Asian real estate funds since 2004 and in Asian private equity funds since 2005. Alan Snoddy, a senior vice president responsible for the real estate portfolio of the pension fund, indicated as early as September 2007 in an interview with sister publication PEI Asia, that the Church Pension Fund was exploring the idea of establishing a presence in Asia, “because we need to build relationships with local funds”.

Some of the region's private equity managers it has committed to in the past include Advantage Partners, Bain Asia, Pacific Equity Partners, Ironbridge Capital, Indivision, Navis Capital and Sequoia's India and China funds.

Real estate managers backed by the pension fund include DaVinci in Japan, CLSA’s Fudo Capital, IL&FS Realty Fund, Pantaloon’s Horizon Realty Fund and SUN-Apollo India Real Estate Fund.

Established in 1914, the pension fund for the clergy of the US Episcopal Church targets an allocation of 10 percent to private equity.