CPPIB: Canada's biggest is bullish on infra

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is now the biggest pension fund in Canada with C$161bn. Its infrastructure investment paid off handsomely, returning 12.8%.

A surging infrastructure portfolio and an ongoing shift from public equity underscored a banner year for Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), which grew its asset base to C$161.6 billion ($158 billion; €124 billion).

The managed asset figure, as of March 31, marked CPPIB as the largest pension fund administrator in Canada, surpassing the C$159 billion Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. Meanwhile CPPIB, as manager of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), gained 6.6 percent annually.

For its infrastructure allocation, CPPIB – a direct investor in the asset class – recorded a 12.8 percent gain. Its private asset portfolio has climbed to 36.6 percent.

The pension fund manager is also diversified globally, with 60 percent of its capital invested outside of Canada.

Like Caisse as well as Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo), the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) and the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan (OTPP) – each based in Canada – CPPIB is a multibillion dollar retirement system that has championed infrastructure as well as direct investment in infrastructure.

In April, the pension fund manager paid $1.15 billion for a 49.99 percent stake in Grupo Costanera, a major toll road operator in Santiago, Chile. In December, the C$69 billion AIMCo bought 50 percent of SAESA Group, a Santiago-based electricity distribution and transmission company, from Morgan Stanley Infrastructure.

Publicly, CPPIB has also talked up infrastructure, with both outgoing chief executive David Denison and current executive vice president Mark Wiseman enthusing about the infrastructure market in Australia and the UK.

This month, Denison credited investing in infrastructure with helping Canada to become an established market in global finance.