UPDATE 1-Canada pension fund boss wishes he'd made more deals

Fri Feb 14, 2014 2:32pm EST
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By Andrea Hopkins

TORONTO Feb 14 (Reuters) - The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), one of the world's biggest pension funds, notched another quarter of strong returns but its chief executive officer said he wishes the fund had been more aggressive when prices were cheap.

CPPIB, which manages Canada's national pension fund and is a major global dealmaker, said it had gross investment returns of 5.9 percent for the third quarter ended Dec. 31, taking its five-year investment rate of return to an annualized 7.2 percent.

The fund's deep pockets and long investment horizon helped it complete deals that rivals could not make when times were tough. But the global economic recovery has meant an increase in competition and asset prices that are no longer such a good deal.

In retrospect, CEO Mark Wiseman said he wishes the fund had been even more aggressive in deal-making five years ago, given the market recovery.

"I think a lot of people thought we were overly aggressive, but hindsight is 20/20. Should we have bought more assets? We probably should have, because almost everything we did in that period has worked out incredibly well," Wiseman said in an interview.

The payoff for making big successful bets in the wake of the financial crisis pushed CPPIB's net assets to a record C$201.5 billion ($183.57 billion) in the third quarter, compared with C$192.8 billion at the end of the previous quarter.

CPPIB began really diversifying beyond traditional financial assets like stocks and bonds in 2006, and was sideswiped by the financial crisis in 2009. But big global deals in assets like real estate and infrastructure have boosted the fund's rate of return, and it has opened offices in London, New York, Hong Kong and, in April, Sao Paulo, Brazil.   Continued...