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Oregon Fund’s Private-Equity Head Jay Fewel to Retire

Jay Fewel, who helped spearhead the Oregon State Treasury’s push into private equity, will retire on Feb. 1 after a 24-year career at the state pension fund.

The Oregon State Treasury will announce a process to name his successor at a meeting of its investment council on Jan. 29, the pension fund said yesterday in a statement. Fewel, 58, a senior investment officer at the $66.3 billion Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund, oversees about $14 billion in leveraged-buyout funds and other high-returning alternatives to public stocks and bonds.

“In his stellar career, Jay Fewel has helped improve the financial stability of every Oregonian who relies on public trust funds,” said State Treasurer Ted Wheeler said in the statement.

Oregon was among the first public pension funds to deploy money in leveraged buyouts, becoming an anchor investor in KKR & Co. in 1981. KKR, then five years old and known as Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., went on to execute a record-shattering, $31 billion buyout of RJR Nabisco in 1989, a deal chronicled in the 1990 bestseller by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar, “Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco.”

Fewel, who joined Oregon in 1989, built the state’s private-equity relations from three managers to several dozen. Since the early 1980s, Oregon’s alternative investments have posted an average annual return of 15.7 percent.

“He really built out the program,” James Sinks, a spokesman for Oregon State Treasury, said in a telephone phone interview.

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