CDPQ opens office in Delhi

While the Canadian pension's new outpost will focus on all asset classes, its first commitment is to India’s renewable energy sector in the amount of $150m.

Having set its sights on select emerging markets for quite some time, Canada’s La Caisse de Depôt et Placement du Québec (CDPQ) has taken the next step by opening a new office in Delhi and making its first investment in renewables outside developed markets.

The Montréal-based pension fund has tapped Anita Marangoly George to head the new office. As managing director for South Asia, George will focus on cementing relationships with public and private institutions to support CDPQ’s investment teams across all asset classes, according to a statement released on Wednesday.

“Anita George is part of the growth markets team,” Rashad Kaldany, who as executive vice president of emerging markets has been building the team since he joined La Caisse in August 2013, told Infrastructure Investor. “We bring the expertise of the local markets and we play a big role in origination,” he said in reference to his team, adding that George will also collaborate with CDPQ’s investment teams depending on the investment and the relevant asset class.

CDPQ’s first commitment in India is to the renewable energy sector, with the pension fund aiming to deploy $150 million over the next three to four years in a range of hydro, solar, wind and geothermal power assets.

For this and other infrastructure-related investments, George will be collaborating with CDPQ’s infrastructure team, led by Macky Tall, senior vice president for infrastructure. The pension fund’s recently launched infrastructure subsidiary, CDPQInfra, will not be involved in the India office’s activities as it primarily focuses on the province of Québec, Kaldany said.

George’s background and experience also happens to be deeply rooted in infrastructure. Her most recent position was that of senior director of the World Bank Group’s global practice on energy and extractives. Prior to that, George served as director of infrastructure and natural resources at the International Finance Corporation, also a member of the World Bank.

Asked whether George’s infrastructure background indicates a particular focus for La Caisse in India, Kaldany responded: “Her special expertise in infrastructure was a plus given our interest in investing in this sector and India’s huge need for infrastructure investment.”

However, her infrastructure experience was not the main determining factor, he said. “Anita has worked in India for 15-plus years and she knows players in all the sectors. That’s why we were seeking her knowledge of the country and her very broad network.”

CDPQ expects to increase headcount at the India office to five or six people within the next six to 12 months, adding up to four new employees in the next three to four years.

Other emerging markets La Caisse is focusing on include Mexico, Colombia and China.

“Over the next four to five-year period, we’re looking to double our investments in growth markets from about seven percent today to about 13-15 percent over this time period,” Kaldany said.

The pension fund, which serves 32 public and private pension and insurance funds in Québec, has already invested about $20 billion in growth markets. In addition to infrastructure, CDPQ also invests in fixed income, equities and real estate. As of 31 December 2015, its assets under management totalled C$248.0 billion ($187.1 billion; €170.1 billion).