Canadian pension fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) has established a C$4 billion ($2.83 billion) fund to support Quebec businesses temporarily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The support from the C$340.1 billion pension fund is intended to complement other initiatives announced by Canadian institutional investors and the governments of Quebec and Canada.
“It is essential for the Caisse to participate in the collective effort in the context of the COVID-19 crisis,” CDPQ President and CEO Charles Emond said in a statement. “This initiative is a good illustration of the exercise of our dual mission to meet the needs of our depositors and to support our businesses and the Quebec economy.”
The aim of the new fund is to accommodate the liquidity needs of companies that meet specific criteria, and CDPQ said the investments not only will allow struggling firms to get through the current period of economic turbulence, but they also support their recovery plan once the crisis is over.
CDPQ said companies looking to qualify for the funds must have been profitable before the COVID-19 crisis, have “promising growth prospects” in their sector, and be seeking financing of more than C$5 million.
Companies that want to apply for funding through the new program are required to fill out a form at www.cdpq.com/fr/formulaire-covid-19. After the form is received, officials will make contact with the company as soon as possible in order to obtain more information and to assess the request.
“The world and the markets are facing a major health and economic crisis,” Emond said. “We are closely monitoring our portfolio and the various asset categories in the exceptional context of COVID-19.”
Emond said that although CDPQ is not immune to the economic consequences of the pandemic, the fund is “solidly positioned” even after the deterioration of the markets in February and March because it has the liquidity necessary to face the current crisis.
“We have a lot of leeway, we are able to identify the risks, and therefore we will act prudently and gradually at the right time to seize the opportunities that such a context may offer,” Emond said.
The pension fund also reported it is instituting a salary freeze for the leaders of the organization and its subsidiaries. And it has postponed payment of variable compensation linked to the performance of CDPQ’s leaders for 2019 until the third quarter of the year. Additionally, members of the management committee have decided to defer and co-invest as much as possible of their variable compensation until 2022. The deferred amounts will vary according to the pension fund’s returns.