TRS Official May Leave For Fund Of Hedge Funds

Jun 18 2008 | 2:00am ET

An Illinois pension fund official caught up in the trial of a prominent supporter of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) may be joining a new hedge fund.

Jon Bauman, executive director of the $38.7 billion Teachers’ Retirement System of Illinois, is mulling a departure to join Abraham Lincoln Alternative Investments, which is set to launch its first fund of hedge funds in August. But Bauman sounds far from certain he’ll be leaving TRS, and the pension fund says he’ll be staying put for at least another year.

“The long and short of it is, I’m not ready to pull the trigger yet,” Bauman told Crain’s Chicago Business. “There are considerations on both the TRS and Abraham Lincoln sides of the situation that need to be worked out before I would resign this position and make the move over.”

For its part, a TRS spokeswoman said that Bauman “intends to serve out the remainder of his contract, which runs through July 31, 2009, and any subsequent contract extensions that may be granted.”

Abraham Lincoln’s first fund of funds will feature a relatively concentrated portfolio of 8 to 12 managers. The Chicago-based firm hopes to raise $500 million for the offering.

Bauman’s appeal to Abraham Lincoln are his ties to the public pension fund world, as it aims to capitalize on demand for minority-owned firms.

Bauman said his potential departure from TRS has nothing to do with the pension’s involvement in the Tony Rezko scandal. The Chicago real estate developer—convicted this month of 16 counts of fraud, money laundering and bribery—is best known for his ties to presidential hopeful Obama, whom he once served as a top donor and fundraiser. But he also had illicit ties with a TRS trustee who pleaded guilty in a kickback scheme. Bauman was not accused of any wrongdoing.


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