These pension funds made a killing with private equity

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Private equity has been a winning bet for large public pensions, according to a new study.

Private equity delivered a 10 percent median annualized return to 146 public pension managing more than $1 billion over the last 10 years, according to a new report from industry trade association The Private Equity Growth Capital Council.

By comparison, the pensions earned a 6.5 percent annualized return on their total investments during the same period. Private equity also outperformed other investments, including stocks (5.8 percent); bonds (6.6 percent); and real estate (6.7 percent), according to the study.

Private equity is a bright spot in an otherwise troubled landscape for public pensions. Still hurt by the financial crisis, public plans are only 73 percent funded as of 2012, according to the Boston College Center for Retirement Research.