Ex-finance ministry official to head CDPQ Mexico

The Canadian pension fund has tapped Alonso García-Tamés as managing director of its Mexican unit and Latin America chief.

La Caisse de depôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) has selected Alonso García-Tamés as managing director of its Mexican subsidiary and head of Latin America, effective immediately.

García-Tamés' role will involve cementing relationships with Latin American stakeholders to boost CDPQ’s standing as a long-term investor in the region, the Montreal-based pension said in a statement. Based in Mexico City, he will report to Rashad Kaldany, executive vice president of emerging markets.

García-Tamés is not new to public institutions, having served as deputy minister of finance and public credit in Mexico’s finance ministry. He previously worked as chief executive of Banobras, Mexico’s state development lender, and held several positions at the country’s central bank for nearly 20 years. Most recently, he was corporate managing director for public sector and capital markets in Latin America at Citi and Banamex.

Banamex, one of the largest pension fund managers in Mexico, was also one of five Mexican institutional investors CDPQ partnered with last September to form CKD Infraestructura Mexico, a platform that will invest up to MXN$35.1 billion (€1.8 billion; $2.0 billion) in Mexican infrastructure through 2020. The other institutional investors comprising the consortium are XXI Banorte, Sura, Pensionissste and Fonadin, Mexico's national infrastructure fund.

According to the statement, García-Tamés will be involved in this partnership while working in tandem with CDPQ’s investment teams to identify investment opportunities in Mexico.

News of this latest appointment comes less than a month since the Canadian pension fund announced the opening of an office in India. Anita Marangoly George, senior director of the World Bank Group’s global practice on energy and extractives, was selected to head that office and to serve as managing director for Southeast Asia.

These recent moves are the culmination of efforts that began in 2013, when CDPQ hired Kaldany, previously chief operating officer of the International Finance Corporation, to build a team and a strategy for emerging markets. In addition to Mexico and India, the pension fund is also mulling a move into Colombia and China.

Earlier this month, Kaldany told Infrastructure Investor that La Caisse is looking to double its investments in growth markets from around 7 percent currently to around 13 to 14 percent over the next four to five years. These investments are not limited to infrastructure but can apply to all the asset classes in which the fund invests. These include fixed income, equities and real estate.

The pension fund, which serves 32 public and private pension and insurance funds in Québec, has already invested about $20 billion in growth markets. As of 31 December 2015, its assets under management totalled C$248.0 billion ($187.1 billion; €170.1 billion).