Canada's OMERS eyes global deals as assets rise again

Fri Feb 22, 2013 3:27pm EST
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By Andrea Hopkins

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian pension fund OMERS said on Friday it wants to diversify beyond its traditional strongholds in North America, Britain and Western Europe, but will remain focused on property, healthcare, infrastructure and energy assets as it seeks deals around the world.

OMERS, which manages the pension plan for Ontario's public-sector municipal workers and has become a global dealmaker by virtue of its deep pockets, said it is just looking for the right opportunities based on risk and reward.

"We'll be highly focused in terms of the sectors we're looking at. We have investments in energy, large infrastructure projects on a world-wide basis, in healthcare and in pipelines, and we'll continue to look for those kinds of opportunities around the world for the right risk-return," OMERS chief financial officer Patrick Crowley said in an interview.

"I don't think we want to restrict ourselves to any one particular jurisdiction -- we have a large fund and we're very active and we want to get the best return for our members."

OMERS has been a major buyer of private market assets for more than a decade, accelerating the pace of acquisitions after the onset of the global economic crisis of 2008-09.

It said Friday it notched a 10 percent return on investments in 2012 as its private equity, property and infrastructure portfolios made strong gains, offsetting losses on its investment in Alberta's oil and gas sector.

Net assets at the fund grew to C$60.8 billion last year from C$55.1 billion at the end of 2011.

"The C$5.7 billion increase in our net assets demonstrates the strength and robustness of OMERS business model with the capacity to generate growing investment cash yields and more than ample liquidity to withstand market shocks under stressed financial conditions," Michael Nobrega, OMERS president and chief executive, said in a statement.   Continued...