Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Comp Looking to Sell Investments Worth $393 Million

May 18, 2006

Ohio’s embattled insurance program for on-the-job injuries is looking for a banker to sell investments worth about $393 million so it can put the money in less risky ventures.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation asked investment banks and other institutions to make bids on the sale. Bids are due by June 15 and a bank should be selected by Aug. 24, the bureau said in a news release.

The investments, known as the private equity fund, include venture capital funds, used by start-up companies, and combinations of equity and debt, where an investor makes money off the interest.

The bureau has been putting its $14 billion investment portfolio into fixed-income accounts, such as bonds, since about $300 million in losses were disclosed last year. That includes up to $13 million missing from a rare-coin fund managed by coin dealer and Republican fundraiser Tom Noe.

Noe has pleaded not guilty to charges that he stole at least $1 million from the coin fund. He faces trial in August. The scandal also produced misdemeanor charges against Gov. Bob Taft, who pleaded no contest to failing to report rounds of golf and other gifts and was fined $4,000.

The bureau is having an outside firm study its asset liabilities. Preliminary results are to be presented to the Workers’ Compensation Oversight Commission at its next meeting May 25.

The board is to develop new investment policies after it reviews the study.

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