December 5, 2014 / 10:19 PM / 3 years ago

Ivanhoe Cambridge eyes return to London office market

TORONTO (Reuters) - Ivanhoe Cambridge, the real estate arm of Canada’s second-largest pension fund, is looking to re-enter the London office market as part of a broader plan to build up assets in 15 key cities, its top executive said.

Ivanhoe, which is active in the London residential market but sold off its sole office asset in the city in August, intends to open a London office sooner rather than later, Chief Executive Officer Daniel Fournier told Reuters.

"We'll go in and hopefully over a five-year period we'll accumulate assets," he said in an interview in Toronto on Thursday.

Ivanhoe, a unit of the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, is expected to making an opening gambit in London as early as next week. Trade publications have reported it may make a 114 million pound ($178 million) acquisition of the city's Stonecutter property, part of Deloitte's Midtown campus.

Fournier declined to confirm the reports but said such a deal would be "a great place to start" in London.

He cautioned that Ivanhoe would not grow rapidly in an expensive market like London.

"If we could find five or six other assets just like (Stonecutter) or similar to it we would do it ... because of the pricing levels there, we know it won’t happen overnight," he said.

Beyond London, Ivanhoe has been adding or looking at buildings in Seattle, New York and Boston as part of its plan to boost the value of its real estate portfolio to C$60 billion ($52.7 billion) in 2018 from the current C$40 billion, Fournier said.

Ivanhoe plans to account for 15 percent of the Caisse's overall asset base by 2018, up from 11 percent now, he added.

Large Canadian pension funds such as the Caisse and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board are keen to acquire long-life revenue-generating assets around the world. In addition to real estate, they have made big bets on assets like ports, farmland and hydro-electric power projects.

Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Lisa Shumaker

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