University of California adds TRS real assets exec

John Ritter’s stint at Teacher Retirement System of Texas coincided with its investment into row and permanent crop farmland-focused Teays River.

The University of California Office of the Chief Investment Officer has hired former Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) energy and natural resources director John Ritter as managing director of real assets.

John Ritter
John Ritter

At a meeting of the UC Board of Regents Investments Subcommittee on Tuesday, chief investment officer Jagdeep Bachher announced that Ritter would join senior analyst Jessica Hans and investment officer Albert Lee on the endowment’s real assets team.

“I think there will be lots of good real assets opportunities going forward,” said Bachher, who joined UC in April 2014.

In March, Agri Investor sister publication Private Equity International reported that the University of California Board of Regents had increased its real asset target from its current 10.5 percent to 12.5 percent by 2020 as part of an effort to prepare for what it expects will be a more challenging environment for public markets.

Ritter joined TRS as an investment manager in 2007, holding several positions within its real assets group that included research and investment committee education on timber, agriculture and farmland, among other asset classes, according to his LinkedIn profile. He went on to become director of TRS’s energy and natural resources division in 2012, a position he held until joining the University of California earlier this month.

At TRS, Ritter played a role in the 2010 investment in Teays River, which was established in 2009 as a row and permanent crop farmland-focused private equity fund that attracted investments from TIAA-CREFF, TRS and AP Fonden 2, a Swedish pension.

In 2014, Indiana-headquartered Teays River was restructured into a company providing co-investment opportunities and went on to attract a $300 million investment from the Washington State Investment Board.

The University of California Office of the Chief Investment Officer manages $107.2 billion in university assets, including its $10.4 billion General Endowment Pool. The GEP’s $215 million real assets portfolio returned 1.1 percent in the three months ending March 31 and 3.5 percent in the year ending on the same date, according to materials released at Tuesday’s meeting.