Massachusetts hires Nierenberg to help oversee hedge fund picks

BOSTON Wed Nov 14, 2012 3:23pm EST

BOSTON Nov 14 (Reuters) - Massachusetts' state pension fund, which has invested roughly $5 billion in hedge funds, said on Wednesday that it hired a former money manager and current business school professor to oversee these types of investments.

Eric Nierenberg, who earned three degrees from Harvard, including a doctorate in business economics, will join the Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management Board as its senior investment officer-hedge funds and low volatility strategies, Michael Trotsky, the fund's executive director, said in a statement.

"Eric's superb qualifications in investment analysis will help us apply rigorous scrutiny to existing and potential investment strategies," Trotsky said.

The $50 billion state pension fund, which has money with big name managers, including Paul Singer, Alan Howard, and William Ackman, has long relied on hedge funds to help boost returns. It recently opted to select its managers directly instead of paying extra fees to so-called funds of funds for that work. The move is expected to save the pension fund $36 million a year in fees.

Nierenberg fills one of several open spots at the pension fund, which has faced public criticism over salaries. The Massachusetts pension fund has struggled, like other public funds, to woo investment executives to positions that pay far less than the Wall Street salaries many are used to earning.

Trotsky, the fund's executive director, recently took on the additional role of chief investment officer after that position had been open since the summer.

Nierenberg was a portfolio manager at Lee Munder Capital Group. He also worked at Independence Investments and Charles River Associates. He currently teaches graduate level courses in investments, options and derivatives and international portfolio management at Brandeis University.