* CEO says keeping ‘close eye’ on Trump infrastructure plan
* CEO welcomes Leech appointment by Canadian government
* Performance impacted by decline in fixed income markets (New throughout, adds CEO comments on infrastructure opportunities)
By Matt Scuffham
TORONTO, Feb 10 (Reuters) - The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, one of the world’s biggest infrastructure investors, is awaiting details of U.S. President Donald Trump’s planned $1 trillion infrastructure program, its CEO said.
Canada’s national pension fund, which already invests billions of dollars around the world in assets such as roads, bridges, and airports, would be an obvious candidate to invest in the program, infrastructure experts say.
The CPPIB, which invests on behalf of 19 million Canadians, has said it sees potential opportunities emerging from policies pursued by the new U.S. administration, particularly in infrastructure.
Chief Executive Mark Machin said on Friday the fund was monitoring developments but it was too early to say what opportunities may materialize while the new administration works through its priorities.
“They’re going to get to infrastructure, I think it’s going to take a little more time but we’re hopeful and we’re long-term (investors). We’ll keep a close eye on that,” Machin said in an interview after the fund reported third-quarter results.
Machin also said he hoped that Canada’s new Infrastructure Bank, set up by the Liberal government to help attract private funding for Canadian infrastructure projects, would facilitate opportunities in the domestic market.
“We’re hopeful that the Canada Infrastructure Bank moves along and we see a good pipeline here as well,” Machin said, welcoming the appointment on Friday of Jim Leech, former chief executive of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, as a special advisor to the Canadian government.
“He (Leech) is a very, very experienced and credible guy so that’s a really good announcement which should be really beneficial to them. He has great insights in private investing,” Machin said.
Canada’s biggest public pension plan said its portfolio delivered a gross investment return of 0.64 percent for the quarter, or 0.56 percent, net of all cost. It ended the quarter to Dec. 31 with net assets of C$298 billion ($227 billion), compared with C$301 billion at the end of the previous quarter.
“The fund’s modest return this quarter reflects the largest quarterly decline in North American fixed income markets since CPPIB’s inception,” Machin said.
Although the fund has diversified, the majority of its investments remain in public equity and fixed income markets.
$1 = 1.3134 Canadian dollars Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and David Gregorio