Spring 2013 MBA Course

B9301-179: Institutional Investing: Alternative Assets in Pension Plans

W - B Term, 05:45PM to 09:00PM

Location: URI 331

Instructor: Karl Mergenthaler; Michael Weinberg

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This course examines key themes and issues related to investing in alternative assets from the perspective of major asset owners, such as defined benefit pension plans.  The course will focus on the investment process and benefits of applying alternative investments, specifically hedge funds and fund-of-funds, to traditional portfolios.  The course will also address the role of real estate, timber, venture capital, private equity, hard assets, infrastructure assets and commodities within traditional portfolios. 

The goals of this course are for participants to:

•    Understand the objectives and constraints of institutional investors, specifically corporate and public pension plans;
•    Appreciate the benefits, and potential drawbacks, of including alternative assets within the context of large institutional portfolios;
•    Gain insight into the analysis and selection of hedge funds, as well as the construction of hedge fund of fund portfolios;
•    Develop an awareness of analysis, selection, and management of alternative asset portfolios including private equity, commodities, currencies, etc.

This course will make significant use of practical, real-world examples. Moreover, the professors expect to engage CIOs of pension plans, as well as major hedge fund managers (such as David Einhorn of Greenlight, Scott Bessent of Soros, and others) to participate in the course as guest lecturers. 

Students who are looking to pursue careers in any traditional or alternative asset class will benefit from this course.  Further, students interested in careers at corporate or public pension plans, fund of funds, consultants or research providers should benefit from this course.


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Karl Mergenthaler

Adjunct Associate ProfessorKarl Mergenthaler, CFA is an Executive Director in the J.P. Morgan Investment Analytics & Consulting Group. His principal responsibility is to provide analytical and consulting services to pension funds and other institutional investors. Karl has more than 14 years of experience in the financial services industry. Prior to joining J.P. Morgan in 2007, Karl was an equity analyst and portfolio manager at Avatar Associates, where he...

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Michael Weinberg

Adjunct Associate ProfessorFor two decades, Michael has invested directly, at the security level, and indirectly, as an asset allocator, in traditional and alternative asset classes. Michael has spent the last 9 years as an asset allocator at FRM, a diversified multi-strategy fund of fund. At FRM he headed the $2-4Bn equity and event business and was on the investment and management committees. As a member of FRM...

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