TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s Liberal government is speaking to sovereign wealth funds and global private equity firms as well as domestic pension funds as it ramps up efforts to attract funding for its new infrastructure bank, according to two sources.
The overseas investors that the officials developing the infrastructure bank are speaking to include the Government Pension Fund of Norway, one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, said the sources, who declined to speak on the record because of the sensitivity of the talks.
The government said earlier this month it would set up an infrastructure bank and give it access to C$35 billion ($26 billion) to help fund major projects.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau are attending an event in Toronto on Monday aimed at attracting private investment. The event is part of a series of meetings with private investors ahead of the launch of the bank, which Ottawa hopes will be up and running next year, the sources said.
Trudeau and Morneau had previously expressed a desire to attract investment from Canada’s biggest pension plans such as the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), the Caisse de depot du Quebec and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.
A significant proportion of the projects the bank hopes to fund will be built from scratch, known as “greenfield” investments, rather than “brownfield” investments which have already been built.
The Canadian pension funds, among the world’s ten biggest infrastructure investors, have invested more in projects overseas than in their domestic market.
That is partly because they have preferred to invest in existing infrastructure which has established revenue streams and does not carry construction risk. However, that stance is changing as investors seek alternatives to government bonds and volatile equity markets.
Last week, CPPIB’s Chief Executive Mark Machin said in an interview the fund would be open to investing in greenfield projects through the infrastructure bank.
Meanwhile, the Caisse, Quebec’s public pension fund, is planning to build a new 67 kilometer public transit system in Montreal, investing C$3 billion and seeking to supplement that with C$2.5 billion of federal and provincial government funding.
That project could be one of the first to be funded by the new infrastructure bank, the sources said.
Sources said the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan is also planning to invest more in greenfield projects.
($1 = 1.3546 Canadian dollars)
Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli