CalSTRS re-ups in Ardian’s latest secondaries fund

The US's second-largest pension fund committed $500m to ASF VIII, twice the amount it invested in the firm's previous secondaries programme.

Ardian‘s latest flagship fund, set to become one of the largest-ever private equity vehicles, has received a commitment from the California State Teachers’ Retirement System.

The Sacramento-headquartered pension fund committed $500 million to ASF VIII, part of $4 billion in private equity commitments made in the second half of last year, according to documents prepared by consultant Meketa Investment Group. This is the joint-largest ticket written by CalSTRS during the period, along with a commitment to Blackstone Tactical Opportunities III.

CalSTRS invested $250 million in 2015-vintage predecessor ASF VII, its first commitment to an Ardian secondaries fund, according to Secondaries Investor data. Other secondaries commitments include $250 million to the 2015-vintage Strategic Partners Fund VII and commitments of $100 million and $150 million to Coller Capital‘s 2012- and 2016-vintage funds, respectively.

Paris-headquartered Ardian is seeking to raise $18 billion for its ASF VIII programme, comprising $12 billion for its commingled secondaries vehicle and $6 billion for co-investments. This would make it the joint sixth-largest private equity vehicle ever raised, Secondaries Investor reported in February.

The fund came to market in May.

Speaking to sister publication Private Equity International last spring, CalSTRS chief investment officer Chris Ailman said the US’s second-largest public pension was constantly looking at selling individual partnerships or slices of its private equity portfolio and buying assets at a discount. The illiquidity of the market makes optimum pricing difficult to achieve, he added.

“I think as usual you want to be a buyer when everyone is interested in selling and when everyone wants to buy, you want to sell,” Ailman said. “It’s just hard in that it’s still a highly illiquid market and those transactions still take a considerable period of time.”

The pension has $20.55 billion in private equity assets under management, equivalent to 9.1 percent of its total.