Updated Tuesday, September 30, 2014 as of 5:55 AM ET

Calpers CIO Dear Is Taking Leave to Continue Health Treatments

(Bloomberg) -- Joseph Dear, chief investment officer of California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest U.S. public pension plan, is taking leave to continue personal health treatments.

Ted Eliopoulos, current senior investment officer for real estate, will serve as acting CIO of the more than $277 billion pension plan, also known as Calpers, spokesman Brad Pacheco said in an e-mailed reply to a Bloomberg News query. Dear, 62, isn’t stepping down, Pacheco said, adding that he has no timeframe for Dear’s medical leave. Dear will continue to periodically attend meetings and calls to “provide his expertise on important issues,” Pacheco added.

Dear took over as Calpers CIO in March 2009, about two months after fund assets hit a recession low of $164.7 billion, 37 percent off the October 2007 peak. Under him, assets have rebounded even as investment results have remained volatile in the past five years.

Public pensions have been under pressure to boost investment returns after record losses during the global financial crisis.

Calpers reported a 12.5 percent gain on investments for the fiscal year ended June 30 as global stock indexes rose to records. It lost a record 23 percent in 2009 and gained almost 21 percent in 2011. In 2012, it earned 1 percent.

The fund needs to earn at least 7.5 percent to match its assumed rate of return. The rate is used to calculate how much money the plan will need to cover promised benefits and what employers must contribute.

Calpers announced in June that Dear was ceding some of the day-to-day investment operations to Eliopoulos while undergoing prostate cancer treatments. Eliopoulos restructured the system’s property holdings to focus on income-producing assets and reduce related debt, Pacheco said last year.

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