Minority-Owned Investment Firms Reach $1 Billion Milestone at Verizon

NEW YORK - In a significant milestone, 20 minority-owned investment firms now manage more than $1 billion in pension and other assets for Verizon Communications Inc., up from $830 million in pension assets Verizon had previously committed to the same investment managers.

Verizon Investment Management Corp., the subsidiary that manages Verizon's $40 billion pension fund, recently added $130 million in fixed assets to the minority managers' portfolios. The Verizon pension fund is the second-largest corporate pension fund in the United States. Verizon also moved Verizon Foundation's $100 million endowment to a team of minority managers.

The $230 million increase in assets under management comes on the sixth anniversary of Verizon's Diversity Managers program, established in 1997 to recruit minority-owned investment firms. The program's liaison office, based in Stamford, Conn., monitors results and identifies opportunities from a broad and diversified investment group.

"Verizon's aggregated U.S. defined benefit pension plan remains fully funded despite three years of weak equity markets because the assets are diversified and well managed," said Britt Harris, president of Verizon Investment Management Corp. "While the principle of asset diversification is well known, we've gone a step further by diversifying our choice of investment firms and challenging them to manage an increasingly larger share of our assets."

Harris, who is also a member of Verizon Foundation's board of directors, said minority investment firms now also manage all of the foundation's investments. The Verizon Foundation board approved the change earlier this year to align its investment policy with a key foundation mission to serve the needs of the company's diverse communities.

More than 100 minority-owned firms are active in the U.S. investment-management market. Although they represent 5 percent of the nation's 2,000 investment firms, minority firms manage less than 0.7 percent of corporate pension-fund assets. Verizon's $1 billion commitment, which is among the nation's largest, is more than double the national average.

The 20 minority-owned firms that manage Verizon assets are:

Ariel Capital Management, Black Enterprise Growth Partners, Capri Select Income Fund, Canyon Johnson Urban Fund, EARNEST Partners, Hispania Capital Partners, Hughes Capital Management, NCM Capital Management Group, Pacific Alternative Asset Management Company (PAAMCO), Paradigm Asset Management Company, Pharos Capital.

Also, Piedra Capital, Provender Opportunities Fund, Seix Investment Advisors, Solera Capital, S.W. Pelham Fund, Syndicated Communications Venture Partners IV, The Edgar Lomax Company, Utendahl Capital Management, and Taplin, Canida & Habacht.

Four of the funds are Hispanic-owned: Hispania Capital Partners, Seix, Piedra and Taplin. Six are women-owned: Solera, PAAMCO, the African-American firms S.W. Pelham and Hughes, and the Hispanic firms Seix and Taplin. The remainder are African American-owned.

A Fortune 10 company, Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 136.6 million access line equivalents and
33.3 million Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon is the third-largest long-distance carrier for U.S. consumers, with 13.2 million long-distance lines, and the company is also the largest directory publisher in the world, as measured by directory titles and circulation. With approximately $67 billion in annual revenues and 227,000 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.