Exclusive: PSP to establish infra team in London

PSP’s Patrick Charbonneau will head over to London in the autumn to build an infrastructure unit as the Canadian pension expands its global footprint.

Patrick Charbonneau, PSP Investments’ managing director for infrastructure, will relocate to London in the coming months to spearhead the creation of an infrastructure team, PSP senior vice-president and global head of private investments Guthrie Stewart told Infrastructure Investor.

Charbonneau, who's been part of PSP’s infrastructure unit in Montreal since the pension started a dedicated programme in 2006, has been actively involved in building the team and its portfolio.

“Patrick’s nomination is the first step in building a strong infrastructure investment team in London that will complement our Montreal-based activities in sourcing, executing and managing attractive investment opportunities, and in building strong relationships with our partners,” Stewart said.

The objective is to establish the London office as an important hub for PSP’s infrastructure investments. The pension fund manager will grow its presence there both by transferring experienced professionals from Montreal as well as by recruiting and retaining top talent. The London office will work in a fully integrated model with the Montreal office, PSP said.

The move comes less than a year since the Canadian pension fund manager began building a presence outside Canada. The first offshore outpost was established last November when PSP opened an office in New York with a team dedicated to private debt. The New York-based team has already committed some C$3 billion ($2.3 billion; $2.1 billion) since its inception, according to Stewart.

PSP already has an office that is up and running in London, currently focusing on private equity. Stewart said that Simon Marc, PSP's managing director for European private equity, is looking to expand the team, which has already signed two transactions. The team currently comprises seven members, with a view to growing that number to 12 by year-end.

Ultimately, the London office will be active in all the asset classes in which PSP invests, including real estate and private debt.

Asked whether the UK’s recent decision to leave the European Union changes any of its plans, PSP said that it “continues to carefully monitor the situation and to evaluate the possible impacts of the June 23 vote on its portfolio,” taking into consideration financial and economic factors as well as its long-term investment horizon.

“PSP Investments remains committed to opening an office in London in FY2017 that will serve as its European hub,” a PSP spokesperson said. While the London office is operating, it is currently at a temporary location. The pension’s real estate group is in the process of building a permanent base, according to Stewart.

Read more about PSP in our July keynote interview, in which Guthrie Stewart talks to us about the pension's infrastructure plans and strategy