Caixin
Sep 21, 2018 05:18 AM
FINANCE

Calpers May Hire China Forex Official as Investment Chief

Meng joined China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) as a deputy CIO in 2015. Photo: VCG
Meng joined China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) as a deputy CIO in 2015. Photo: VCG

An official at China’s foreign exchange regulatory body may become the next investment chief of the largest U.S. public pension fund.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (Calpers) offered the job of chief investment officer (CIO) to Ben Meng, a deputy CIO at China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Meng hadn’t signed an offer letter as of Wednesday morning, the newspaper reported.

The $360 billion Calpers is one of the biggest pension funds in the world, generating billions of dollars in revenue each year to cover pensions of about 1.9 million Californians. For years Calpers has played a significant role in influencing the policies of large American companies in which it invests.

Meng, 48, worked seven years for the California pension system before joining the Chinese government. He started as a Calpers portfolio manager in 2008 and was promoted to head of asset allocation in 2011.

Meng was hired by the SAFE in 2015 as a deputy CIO under a special elite recruitment program. The administration handles China’s foreign currency reserves of more than $3 trillion.

In a 2017 report, the official newspaper the People’s Daily hailed Meng’s contributions to promoting SAFE’s standing in the global investors community.

A person close to SAFE told Caixin that Meng has been working as a senior technocrat at the administration with no managerial role. His duties involve neither classified work nor important decision-making for the forex regulator, the person said.

Meng told The Wall Street Journal late Wednesday that he is a U.S. citizen working at the Chinese agency as a foreign contractor, without commenting on the job offer.

Born in Dalian, northern China’s Liaoning Province, Meng has studied in the U.S. since 1995. He received a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of California, Davis, in 1998. He later earned a master’s degree in finance at the University of California, Berkeley.

Meng is a veteran investor on Wall Street with extensive experience at banks and investment firms including Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers and Barclays.

If Meng accepts the Calpers offer, he will succeed Ted Eliopoulos, who plans to leave at the end of this year. In June, the Calpers board voted to pay the next investment chief as much as $1.77 million a year, more than double the post’s previous compensation.

Contact reporter Han Wei (weihan@caixin.com)


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