CPP Investment Board reports 10.1 per cent return, assets grow to $183 billion

TORONTO – The Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board says it’s working to strengthen its foothold in emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil as it strives to keep up with shifts in the global economy.

“If you look at market cap and GDP, the trend is clear that the balance of economic activity is moving, at least on a proportional basis, to the developing world,” said Don Raymond, the board’s chief investment strategist.

“We will broadly mirror that in both our active and passive portfolio activities.”

The fund, which invests the money not needed by the Canadian Pension Plan to pay benefits, earned a 10.1 per cent return in its latest fiscal year compared with 6.6 per cent the previous year, while its assets grew by $21.7 billion from a year ago to $183.3 billion.

Of that growth, $16.2 billion came from investment income after operating costs, while another $5.5 billion came from contributions.

However, the fund fell $286 million short of its benchmark reference portfolio after factoring in operating expenses.

CPPIB president and chief executive Mark Wiseman said the fund’s long-term investment strategy means yearly comparisons with the benchmark are not an accurate gauge of success.

He called the fund “extremely efficient,” noting that its operating expenses make up 28.9 cents for every $100 of invested assets.

“In some years, we’re going to exceed benchmark and in some years we’ll be below benchmark, because our portfolio is different than that theoretical set of indices,” Wiseman said.

“What we believe very strongly is that in the long term, over successive years, the investment portfolio will substantially outperform the benchmark.”

Wiseman said CPPIB will be growing its Hong Kong and London offices as it works to build networks in challenging foreign markets, where it can be tough to identify good investment opportunities.

“We’re not ‘hot money,’ which means that we can take our time and build our experiences in a market and have a stick-with-it-ness that other investors don’t have,” he said.

“What we’re doing is really gaining experience and building our capabilities on the ground so that we can develop the right type of partners, the right type of relationships in those markets.”

Currently, CPPIB has less than seven per cent of its assets in emerging economies, even as 63 per cent of its assets are invested internationally.

Earlier this month, the board teamed up with GE Capital Real Estate to invest a total of US$403 million in office buildings in Tokyo.

The Canadian fund will hold 49 per cent, while GE Capital Real Estate will own 51 per cent in the joint venture.

CPPIB completed 36 deals over $200 million each in the fiscal year ended March 31, including a financing deal with Formula One Group, the company behind F1 auto racing, and a joint venture to expand its real estate holdings in Brazil.