Towers Watson, the professional services firm, for their survey of the top alternative investment managers of 2011, expanded the scope of their coverage. In earlier years, they had surveyed private equity funds, funds of hedge fund, and funds dedicated to real estate, infrastructure, and commodities. This year, they included all those categories, too, but added direct hedge fund and direct PR results.
TW ranked the top 100 AI managers by total AUM, and separately created top 100 lists by client type: pension funds, insurance funds, sovereign wealth funds, endowments/foundations.
Craig Baker, global head of research at Towers Watson, said in a statement: “Pension funds have always been and will remain a very large client group for top alternatives managers, but the demand from non-pension fund investors, such as sovereign wealth funds, is only going to increase in the future.”
The headline figure is that the total AUM for the top 100 AI managers is $3.136 trillion. The largest chunk of that (more than $1 trillion) consists of real estate funds. Also, close to $700 billion of the total of three trillion is held by PE funds. Hedge funds are the third largest group within the whole, holding $643 billion.
The top 100 firms within the list based on a pension-fund clientele holds $1.234 trillion from that clientele. Here again RE is the largest chunk of the whole ($490 billion). But here, the second-largest chunk is in the hands of the PE FOFs ($220.5 billion).
The survey also asked that the asset managers state where their total assets are invested, using four geographical categories: Europe; Central/North America; Asia Pacific; Other. Commodity funds were easily the most heavily invested in C/NA, to the extent of 94 percent of their portfolios. Private equity funds are 61 percent invested in C/NA, and PE FoFs also have the majority of their portfolios there, at 54 percent.
The least C/NA exposed type of fund among those surveyed is the infrastructure category, which is only 34 percent invested there, and 45 percent invested in Europe (leaving 14 percent of their portfolios to the Asia Pacific and 7 percent to other.)
Over-all, for the top 100 managers, C/NA is the destination of 48 percent of their capital, Europe about one third.
Private equity FoFs and Infrastructure funds each increased their AUM from 2010 to 2011. Commodities and FoHFs both showed a decrease in their AUM year-to-year.
Among those AI funds catering largely to a pension fund clientele, asset allocation remained largely the same from 2010 to 2011. The amount devoted to real estate (still easily the largest chunk) dropped slightly, and the amount devoted to PE FoF increased. The single largest AI fund rated by its pension fund assets is an infrastructure fund with Australia as its main country of domicile, and the Macquarie Group as its parent organization. The second largest such rate, so rated, is a real estate fund with the U.S. as its main country of domicile, and CBRE Global Investors as its parent organizations. These two funds have total pension fund AUMs of $59 billion and $53.8 billion, respectively.
Alternative assets managed for SWFs by the top 100 managers of SWF assets amount to around $134.9 billion. How is this money deployed? Here, to, real estate is the stand-out, getting 32.4 percent of these assets. Private equity snags 25.3 percent, followed by FoHFs at 23.2 percent.
The top-ranked fund in the top 100 rating for SWFs is a FoHF, domiciled in the U.S., with Blackstone Alternative Asset Management as its parent. The second-rated fund on this list is real estate, domiciled in Canada, and parented by Brookfield Asset Management.
Baker said that there are shifts underway that reflect the effort to diversify on the part of the whole range of institutions that are providing money to the AI funds. He thinks the effort to diversify “is worthwhile but investors need to be cautious about choosing the best and most efficient vehicles.”