SC pension fund's worth falls as investments don't keep up

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The director of the agency that invests South Carolina's pension portfolio says its worth slid backward because investments didn't earn enough to cover benefit payments to retirees.

Retirement System Investment Commission Director Michael Hitchcock told a Senate panel Thursday that investments earned $454 million last fiscal year. That amounts to a 1.6 percent rate of return after management fees were paid.

The pension system had to provide more than $1 billion to retirees. That means the portfolio was worth $612 million less on July 1 than a year earlier, or $29.2 billion.

The portfolio's alternative investments in real estate, private equity and hedge funds were by far its best performers.

Hitchcock says the agency's governing board will evaluate the fund's asset allocation over the next few months.