Hedge Fund Investors Gain Power

BusinessWeek – For years pension funds, university endowments, and other big investors essentially wrote blank checks to hedge funds and private equity firms. They readily paid stiff fees and agreed to onerous restrictions. Investors had no choice if they wanted access to the money managers and outsize gains.

All that is changing. With returns dismal and cash scarce, investors are demanding—and winning—concessions on everything from cost to oversight. "The balance of power has shifted," says a private equity executive.

In recent months some of the biggest institutional investors, including the $175 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System, have gathered at closed-door meetings in New York and Toronto to talk about ways they might flex their newfound muscle. A number of public pensions, such as the $16 billion Utah Retirement System, have pushed firms publicly to ease terms.

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