Canadian Pension’s ‘Pivotal Year’ Drives Substantial Progress for Its Alternative Strategies

Robust international portfolio delivered $9 billion in 2018.

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec’s (CDPQ) expansive private equity program carried out more than $9 billion in investments in 2018, according to a report from the institutional investor, more than doubling its total from five years ago to a cool $43 billion.

The investor also had a “pivotal year” for its infrastructure program, with $22.7 billion in assets by the end of the year, “up nearly $15 billion from 2013,” according to the report.

The strategies are focused on “quality partnerships” with various stakeholders and experts in those markets, many of whom are “world-class partners around the world, including in the US and Europe,” the Montreal-based investor said in its earnings report. 

The two strategies helped buffer CDPQ’s overall portfolio against the global downturn in 2018, with infrastructure pulling in 11.2% for the year and private equity garnering 16.6%. The total $309.5 billion portfolio generated a 4.2% return in 2018, with its equity markets holdings generating a 0.9% return for the period.

“This performance is primarily attributable to the superior results of the Global Quality mandate,” CDPQ said about its equities performance, “[which] includes securities of quality companies exposed to global growth and traded on major stock exchanges.”

Of the $9 billion in private equity activity, CDPQ invested in a German-based global fintech firm, a French engineering firm, and Avison Young, “the world’s fastest-growing private commercial real estate services company.” Its infrastructure strategy closed on acquisitions in interests of renewable energy producers based in North America and India, and created a $1 billion Colombian platform with other institutional investors to make equity investments in infrastructure projects and companies.

The investor also places significant importance on its investments in Quebec’s private sector, which reached $44.3 billion in 2018. It also recently teamed up with Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management to focus on investments in environmentally-friendly companies.

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