Florida is latest state pension to invest with Och-Ziff

BOSTON Thu Aug 23, 2012 2:41am IST

BOSTON Aug 22 (Reuters) - Hedge fund titan Och-Ziff Capital Management has added another prominent investor to its list of closely guarded top-tier clients -- the state of Florida.

On July 31, the Florida State Board of Administration, whose pension fund ranks as the fourth largest U.S. public pension with $125.6 billion in assets, sent $150 million into the OZ Domestic Partners II LP fund, according to state documents.

Florida is slowly putting money into the $2 trillion hedge fund industry and with its maiden commitment to Och-Ziff, it joins state pension funds in Massachusetts, California and New Jersey in selecting the $30 billion hedge fund firm. At the end of the second quarter, Florida had $1.4 billion in hedge funds and related vehicles, spokesman Dennis MacKee said.

Och-Ziff generally does not name its clients and through a spokesman declined to comment.

The New York-based hedge fund firm, one of the world's biggest, had $800 million in new net inflows on August 1, Och said earlier this month. The firm also benefited when the New Jersey Division of Investment committed in late July to invest $600 million with Och-Ziff.

As one of only a few publicly traded hedge fund firms, Och-Ziff often ranks high in public pension funds searches for new hedge fund managers, winning praise for its conservative management style and general lack of drama, industry consultants and investors have said.

The firm's Chairman and CEO Daniel Och acknowledges its popularity in his trademark low-key style. "We believe we are consistently one of the top managers of choice for multi-strategy absolute return funds and are attracting a leading share of new flows," he told investors and analysts on a conference call earlier this month.

Still he was coy about naming current and potential clients saying only "We continue to have an active dialogue with current and prospective fund investors globally".

In May at the Robin Hood Foundation's annual gala, where Och serves on the board as a vice chair, his style was also on display as he stood out by blending in.

Och was networking, to be sure, but unlike some of his flashier rivals, he was not mobbed by well-wishers or reporters. Instead, with a glass of red wine in hand, he held intense one-on-one discussions with Congressman Eric Cantor and Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein among others.