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NC pension fund gained 2.2 percent for the year

North Carolina's pension fund returned 2.21 percent for the fiscal year that ended June 30 and finished the year with $74.5 billion in assets, State Treasurer Janet Cowell's office reported Friday.

The fund's global stock portfolio declined 5.98 percent for the year, and was down 5.88 percent in the second quarter. The fund's bond portfolio gained 11.66 percent and 3.44 percent for the quarter.

“Equity markets across the globe have suffered this quarter from the continuing instability in the Eurozone and a slowdown in China,” Cowell said in a statement.

“At the same time, movement to lower risk investments such as fixed income and real estate helped buffer those losses.”

State pension fund reports 18 percent return for fiscal year 2011

State Treasurer Janet Cowell's office reported today that North Carolina's pension fund delivered an 18 percent return for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

Total assets in the fund were valued at $74.9 billion, up from $74.3 billion in the previous quarter.

The fund's stock portfolio increased 31 percent for the fiscal year.

The fund's performance was mostly flat in the second quarter.

Stocks were up less than 1 percent and the fund's fixed-income bond portfolio was up 2.5 percent.

The fund's real estate portfolio has bounced back, generating an 18 percent return for the fiscal year and 4.3 percent in the second quarter.

“The strong returns for this fiscal year are a testament to the strides we have made in minimizing risk while maximizing returns,” Cowell said in a release. “We continue to work to identify opportunities for allocating investments in a way that positions us well over the long term.”

Local government association heads' salaries top $200,000

The heads of the state's two local government associations each make more than $200,000 annually, according to records from the state treasurer's office and interviews with both men.
Ellis Hankins, executive director of the N.C. League of Municipalities, is paid $207,874, while David Thompson, executive director of the N.C. Association of County Commissioners, earns $204,081.
Both declined to disclose their salaries and other operational expenses in an article in Sunday's News & Observer that reported both associations are allowed to participate in a public pension plan despite their stance that they are not public agencies. Local governments, financed by taxpayers, can be forced to make additional payments to the pension system if investment gains don’t cover promised benefits.
Some say the associations should have to open their books if they want to belong to a pension plan that is run by the state treasurer's office and requires the publicly funded associations to match employee contributions.
On Monday, the treasurer's office released at The N&O's request the most recent monthly salaries for Hankins and Thompson. The treasurer's office collects that information to help accurately track pension contributions.
Once aware that The N&O had that information, both men confirmed their annual salaries.
Thompson is a former manager for Hertford, Stanly, Henderson and Durham counties who became the county association's second leader in 2005. He said the association sets his salary based on what his counterparts make in other large states such as Texas, Florida and California, and on the compensation paid to county managers in North Carolina.
Hankins served as the league's general counsel from 1982 to 1994 and then returned as executive director in 1997. He said his salary is set by the league's board of directors each year after "an extensive performance appraisal discussion."
Their pay is slightly lower than the leaders of Wake County's two biggest municipalities. Wake County Manager David Cooke and Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen each make roughly $220,000 a year.
The league has more than 90 employees and the county association has 36. Both organizations lobby state lawmakers, run self-insurance pools for their member municipalities and provide training for municipal officials. Much of the associations' funding comes from taxpayers through the dues that municipalities or counties pay.
To belong to the state pension system, the associations and their employees each have to kick in roughly six percent of the employees' salaries.
Pensions are set in part by an employee's four highest consecutive years of pay. If Hankins and Thompson retired with full pensions based on their current salaries, Hankins would receive an annual pension of $115,370, while Thompson's pension would be $113,265.

More on Moore

Our colleague Scott Mooneyham, who edits the Insider, has a fascinating piece on former State Treasurer Richard Moore:

Six months before former state Treasurer Richard Moore left office, the North Carolina pension fund that he oversaw invested more than $500 million in the hedge fund firm that now employs him. Moore was named a managing director at San Diego-based Relational Investors in April of this year. The office of current Treasurer Janet Cowell confirmed that in July 2008 the pension fund signed an agreement to make a substantial investment with Relational Investors. The investment, as of Sept. 30,
was valued at $508,623,784. It was the pension fund's first and only investment with the firm.

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