Dale Burgess named head of OTPP’s infra group

The 22-year veteran at the Canadian pension takes the role permanently after being made interim head of infrastructure and natural resources in February after Andrew Claerhout left.

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan named Dale Burgess, who has spent 22 years on the Canadian retirement fund’s investment team, head of infrastructure and natural resources after taking over interim duties for the group in February.

Burgess becomes senior managing director for OTPP’s infrastructure and natural resources group, which manages around C$25.4 billion ($19.8 billion; €16.5 billion) in assets, after his predecessor Andrew Claerhout left the pension earlier this year. He joined the Canadian pension in 1996, first working on its real estate team before switching to infrastructure in 2003. His most recent position was managing director for Latin America.

“Dale’s more than 15 years of experience on the infrastructure team, combined with his proven ability to cultivate strong relationships across the fund, with current and prospective partners, make him ideally suited to take on this role,” said OTPP chief executive Ron Mock.

Burgess will manage an infrastructure portfolio that at the end of last year had a net asset value of C$18.7 billion and was generating an annual return of 18.2 percent, according to OTPP’s annual earnings report. It was the second-best performing asset class within the pension’s C$189.5 billion portfolio.

Natural resources – oil and gas, agriculture, timberland and mining – have a net asset value of C$6.6 billion and are included in OTPP’s inflation-sensitive portfolio, which had a -3.2 percent annual return, according to 2017 earnings.

The change in leadership comes after a strategic review that broadened the pension’s investment horizons, including the creation of a greenfield team, led by Olivia Steedman, and a willingness to target core-plus assets such as UK crematorium business Westerleigh, in addition to new geographies.

OTPP has also started divesting assets, with high-profile sales such as the UK’s HS1 high-speed rail link and the sale of a 30 percent stake in Birmingham and Bristol airports.

Another senior departure, that of chief investment officer Bjarne Graven in April, led to Mock taking over those duties on an interim basis as well.

A spokesman for the pension said Burgess was not available for comment.