Canada Pension Board ekes out small Q1 gains

Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:57pm EDT
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By Andrea Hopkins

(Reuters) - The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, one of the world's biggest pension funds, notched small up gains in the first quarter as financial markets sagged, and said it is looking to China and Europe as well as oversold assets for investment opportunities.

"We are spending time looking at infrastructure opportunities in Europe. We are spending time looking at certain public markets that have been overly beaten-up relative to what we think fair value is," CPPIB chief executive Mark Wiseman said in an interview on Friday.

"(We are) spending more time in those markets and regions that are developing and growing relatively more quickly. A great example of that is China... China will be the largest economy in the world."

CPPIB, which manages Canada's national pension fund, said its assets rose to a record C$165.8 billion ($167.2 billion) from C$161.6 billion three months earlier, as its investment portfolio returned 0.5 percent for the quarter ended June 30.

Its massive size and long investment horizon has enabled CPPIB to do deals around the world, especially as cash-strapped governments and companies seek partners with deep pockets as the global economy wobbles.

CPPIB shifted to an active investment strategy just over six years ago, seeking to boost returns on its portfolio by buying real estate, infrastructure and other assets, while providing private equity and credit to partners looking for cash.

Wiseman said he wants to continue to diversify the fund's holdings and investments by geography and asset class, adding breadth to a portfolio that has so far been heavy on real estate and infrastructure.

"Generally we are continuing to look for investments in private asset classes which are more difficult to put on the books. We have about a third of the portfolio today in private asset classes -- things like real estate and infrastructure, private equity and private debt," Wiseman said.   Continued...