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Pantheon Hires Riak in 401(k) Private Equity Push

Pantheon Ventures LLP, a private-equity fund investor overseeing $24 billion, hired Michael Riak from Verizon Communications Inc. as the firm seeks to expand its reach to investors saving for retirement.

Pantheon appointed Riak to a newly created position as head of U.S. defined contribution, according to an e-mailed statement today from the London-based company. Riak, 45, is leaving his position as director of savings and affiliate plans at Verizon. He will start at Pantheon in June and be based in New York, according to the statement.

“Adding high-quality private-equity investments to defined contribution plans will help address participants’ need for higher returns, bringing to bear the benefits of an asset class long enjoyed by defined benefit plans and other institutional investors,” Riak said in the statement.

Private-equity firms including Carlyle Group LP, Blackstone Group LP and KKR & Co. are looking for ways to reach ordinary investors as a growing number of workers are pushed out of public and corporate pension funds to so-called defined contribution plans such as 401(k)s.

Americans held $3.57 trillion in 401(k) plans as of Dec. 31, according to the Washington-based Investment Company Institute, a trade group for the mutual-fund industry.

Pantheon, which has offices in London, San Francisco, New York and Hong Kong, invests money on behalf of more than 400 institutions in private-equity funds, co-investments alongside managers, secondary transactions and infrastructure programs.

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