CPPIB looks to India with new consultant hire

The Canadian pension has contracted newcomer VSG Capital, a consulting specialist with vast knowledge of India and experience with infrastructure. VSG is led by Wall Street veteran Vikram Gandhi.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) is retaining VSG Capital Advisors, a recently established consulting outfit focused on expanding infrastructure investment in India. CPPIB, with C$152 billion ($152 billion; €116 billion) of assets under management, called the contract with VSG part of a wider effort to expand its global investment reach.

With that in mind, the second-largest retirement fund in Canada also announced Mark Machin, a long time Wall Street professional with Asian expertise, is joining. Machin, 45, was a Goldman Sachs investment banker until December. The pension fund has 9 percent of its capital invested in Asia and Latin America, and is eager to tap into each market, CPPIB explained.

CPPIB said VSG will begin acting as senior adviser effective March 1. VSG is headquartered in New Delhi, India, with a presence in Hong Kong, London and New York. The Canadian pension said VSG will “facilitate” its investment profile in India, which it said has “long-term” potential. 

VSG is headed by Vikram Gandhi, a Wall Street investment banker who has worked for Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley, as well as consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

Gandhi, as VSG chief executive officer, has said he wanted to put his experience on Wall Street along with his knowledge of India toward steering institutional capital from North America to the “social sector” and infrastructure in India.

In addition to Asia and India, CPPIB has voiced a desire to up its infrastructure portfolio in Australia. Chief executive David Denison in a speech in February called infrastructure in Australia a “very attractive” asset.

As a pension plan, CPPIB is a pioneering direct investor in infrastructure, notably investing in Ontario Highway 407.