SamCERA puts RE debt on ice until 2020

The San Mateo retirement plan needs to increase allocations to the value-add real estate strategy to hit its 10% allocation target.

The San Mateo County Employees’ Retirement Association (SamCERA) is poised to halt real estate debt commitments until 2020, according to materials from the northern California pension fund’s meeting held last week.

SamCERA does not plan to allocate any capital to real estate debt next year, but it would commit $15 million in 2020, 2022, 2024 and 2025, respectively, the real estate pacing plan showed. Projected allocations for year’s end have real estate debt at slightly more than 2 percent of the total portfolio. The retirement plan set a 10 percent target allocation for real estate in October 2016, 2 percent of which goes toward real estate debt.

Meanwhile, the retirement association plans to increase allocations to the value-add real estate strategy to hit the 10 percent target. The pension fund will put 6 percent of the targeted 10 percent for the core strategy, 2 percent to value-add and 2 percent to real estate debt.

Like the pacing for real estate debt, core commitments will be spread out, with $15 million slated to be committed in 2019 and $30 million in 2021, 2023 and 2025. The value-add bucket, by contrast, will see commitments every year with a $30 million commitment this year, $45 million in 2019, 2020, 2022 and 2025 and $40 million in 2021, 2023 and 2024.

In June 2017, SamCERA made a $70 million commitment to the open-ended PGIM Real Estate US Debt Fund, which is the pension’s only commitment to the strategy. The fund is targeting a net internal rate of return of 6.25-7.25 percent, according to meeting materials at the time.

PGIM set a $1 billion net asset value target for the vehicle by the end of 2019. It targets a makeup of 60 percent short- to medium-duration senior loans, 20 percent long-duration senior loans and 20 percent medium- to long-duration mezzanine loans, according to SamCERA documents.

The PGIM vehicle beat out Brookfield Asset Management and Investor Real Estate for SamCERA’s commitment, the June 2017 documents showed. The Brookfield and Invesco vehicles were targeting mainly mezzanine loans.

As real estate debt has grown, North America has been the biggest beneficiary of the trend. Fundraising for the strategy by region – where a firm plans to deploy capital rather than where the vehicle’s investors are – has fluctuated over the past four years, but one constant has been the rise of North America, according to PDI data.

Indeed, managers have taken note and are raising capital accordingly; almost half of all capital being raised for real estate debt will be deployed in North America. In addition, US-based managers are seeking the most capital – some $35.7 billion.