* Arden to construct equity-event driven program
* Arden helping Massachusetts transition to hedge fund managers
By Svea Herbst-Bayliss
Jan 23 (Reuters) - Arden Asset Management has won a $150 million mandate from Pennsylvania's $26 billion State Employee Retirement System to help construct specialized investment strategies that will rely on hedge funds, a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
New York-based Arden, which oversees $7 billion in assets for pension funds and other clients, will construct a multi-manager equity event program that is designed to deliver equity-like returns but with the benefits of being more diversified.
Arden won the mandate at a time many state pension are looking to the $2 trillion hedge fund industry to help raise returns and protect portfolios in down markets.
States and other large institutional investors often rely on firms like Arden to help tailor the investments to their specific needs and gain access to some of the world's biggest hedge fund managers.
Pennsylvania's chief investment officer, Tony Clark, has been working to create what he calls pods of specialized investment strategies.
A spokesman for Arden declined to comment.
Arden has long been a favorite with state pension funds. Last year it was hired by Massachusetts to help transition the state's money to some of the world's biggest hedge funds managers, including William Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management and Dan Och's Och-Ziff Capital Management.
Arden also manages money for the state of New Jersey and recently helped create a program where mutual fund giant Fidelity Investments will offer its retail customers access to hedge fund managers through a mutual fund.
Traditionally, hedge funds have been off-limits to all but the biggest and most sophisticated investors.