Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is courting endowment heads to join its asset management group, according to three people with knowledge of the search.

The company started approaching chief investment officers at endowments, as well as money managers who oversee such assets, late last year, said the people, who declined to be identified because the search is not public. The bank is looking to expand its 50-employee portfolio-solutions team, which invests on behalf of clients and works on asset allocation, portfolio construction and manager selection, said Andrea Raphael, a spokeswoman for the New York company.

The portfolio-solutions group is part of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, catering to endowments, foundations, public and corporate pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, family offices and insurance firms, Raphael said.

The firm approached candidates through the headhunter Charles Sterling Group LLC in Boston, said two of the people, who had been contacted and turned down the job. The bank has talked with candidates from pension funds, endowments and other asset managers, according to another person familiar with the search. Raphael declined to comment on the firm's recruiting efforts.

U.S. institutions will probably outsource $510 billion in investments by the end of 2012, according to management consultants Casey Quirk.

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