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Yale tops Harvard with 21.9 percent investment return

Students walk on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut
Students walk on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut

(Reuters) - Yale University's endowment earned a 21.9 percent investment return last year with foreign stocks and private equity investments fueling gains, the Ivy League school said on Wednesday.

The elite school said the endowment value rose to $19.4 billion, making it one of the richest in the world.

Due to large bets on private investments, real estate and hedge funds, the New Haven, Connecticut-based school put up slightly better returns than arch rival Harvard, which reported a 21.4 percent investment gain. Harvard's endowment remains much larger, however, at $32 billion.

Yale's investment process is closely watched in the asset management world as Chief Investment Office David Swensen helped nearly double the endowments size. Over the last decade, Yale's endowment has returned 10.1 percent per year, handily beating stocks' 3.9 percent gain and bonds' 5.1 percent gain.

The average return for college and university endowments was 6.2 percent during the last 10 years.

The university's foreign stock portfolio jumped 40.7 percent, while its private equity portfolio gained 30.3 percent, the university said.

Yale, like many top endowments selects outside managers to handle its investments. Harvard, by comparison, manages much of the money in house, but also lets outside investors oversee a big part of it.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; editing by Andre Grenon)