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Gores environmentally friendly investment firm lands $16M contract to ...

Updated: Mon., Jun. 18, 2012, 5:25 AM

Gores eco-friendly firm lands $16M contract to manage city pension funds
Last Updated: 5:25 AM, June 18, 2012 Posted: 12:42 AM, June 18, 2012

Heres an inconvenient truth: New York is greening the wallet of Al Gore. Embattled city Comptroller John Liu has delivered a $16.56 million contract to the former vice presidents environmentally friendly investment firm, Generation Investment Management, to help manage hundreds of millions of dollars in city pension funds, The Post has learned. The Comptrollers Office had previously awarded Gores firm $12.8 million in pension-fund business under Lius predecessor, Bill Thompson. Since 2009, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has approved $6 million in contracts to the firm, co-founded and chaired by Gore. Generation now manages nearly a half-billion dollars of state pension-fund investments, records show. In total, thats more than $35 million in greenbacks to Gores firm. Lius office proposes investment-management contracts to the board of trustees of the citys five major pension funds. Generation is an investment manager for two of them: the New York City Employees Retirement System (NYCERS) and the Police Pension Fund. But the Gore connection has been a closely held secret. One NYCERS trustee said he didnt even know Gores firm was a city investment manager. Thats been way under the radar. I was unaware of it, said NYCERS trustee Gregory Floyd, head of Teamsters Local 237. Gore, who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his campaign to tackle global warming, is a leading proponent of sustainable capitalism. He focuses on the long-term value of companies that address risks like climate change and slams the markets obsession with short-term profits. In a white paper released in February, Gore and his business partner, David Blood, a former Goldman Sachs executive, recommended companies and investors scrap the use of quarterly reports as benchmarks and provide financial rewards to longer-term investors. He also said long-term climate-change and pollution costs should be assigned to the values of oil, gas and coal companies. Gore, a Democrat who won the popular vote but lost the presidency to Republican George W. Bush in the disputed 2000 election, remains a formidable figure in the Democratic Party particularly on environmental concerns. For Democratic politicians like Liu and DiNapoli who want to burnish their credentials as environmentally responsible financial stewards, hiring Gores firm is like hitting a home run, analysts say. Theres a lot of pressure on pension funds to be environmentally sensitive. Gores name and stature in the pension-fund community is invaluable particularly for Democrats. Hes Al Gore! said Bill Sannwald, a corporate governance and ethics professor at San Diego State University. A spokesman for Generation referred calls for comment to the city and state comptroller. Spokesmen for Liu and DiNapoli declined to comment on whether their bosses had interacted with Gore before awarding his firm contracts, but they defended the deals, saying the firm produced admirable returns on investments. Liu spokeswoman Stephanie Hoo said Generation investments have earned a 22 percent return for the city. The firm has delivered a 32.7 percent return on its state pension-fund investments since its hiring in 2009, records show. Floyd, of the NYCERS board, said he had no objections to the Gore contract as long as the firm produced solid returns.

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6/18/2012 7:15 AM