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California pension eager to finally sell Bushmaster

April 29, 2014: 7:55 AM ET
California's tk

The manager of pensions for California teachers has not been able to sell its stake in Bushmaster maker Freedom Group.

California teachers are still owners of the gun maker used in the Sandy Hook massacre, and the man who invests their money isn't pleased about it.

"It's absolutely frustrating," said Christopher Ailman, chief investment officer for the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS), when speaking to CNNMoney on the sidelines of the Milken Institute's Global Conference in Los Angeles Monday. "I continue to be disappointed every month it goes on."

Related: Cerberus still hasn't sold Freedom Group

CalSTRS, which manages the pensions of California public school teachers, came under fire in late 2012 after it was revealed that it had an investment with private equity firm Cerberus Capital in the Freedom Group. The Freedom Group owns Bushmaster, maker of the rifle used in the shooting at the school in Newtown, Connecticut that killed 20 children and six adults.

Cerberus has been shopping for a buyer for the Freedom Group, but selling the company has not been easy.

Various plans have also been floated that would allow CalSTRS to liquidate its investment in the Freedom Group, but none have come to fruition. Selling its overall stake in Cerberus, for example, is a lengthy process and could result in a significant loss for the pension fund.

So when does Ailman think CalSTRS will finally get the Freedom Group off its books, as it vowed to do in December 2012?

"My hope was last summer," he said.

While Ailman thinks Cerberus has made a genuine effort to sell the gunmaker, the process has taken much longer than he expected.

"We're pushing on their door constantly, in their ear, talking on a regular basis," he said.

Ailman said that since the Sandy Hook tragedy, CalSTRs has sold its shares of publicly-traded gun companies Smith & Wesson (SWHC) and Sturm, Ruger, and Co. (RGR).

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Jesse Solomon
Jesse Solomon
Reporter, CNNMoney

Jesse Solomon is a reporter for CNNMoney’s markets and investing section. He covers stocks, bonds, currencies, alternative investments, emerging markets and mergers and acquisitions. He previously worked as an Associate Producer for CNN, where he covered the Boston Marathon bombing, Superstorm Sandy and other big, breaking news events.

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