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Former OTPP chief tasked to create national infra bank

Jim Leech has been appointed to help establish the Canada Infrastructure Bank, a C$35bn spending programme designed to develop major projects and boost the country’s economy.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has tapped former Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan chief executive Jim Leech to serve as a special advisor for the creation of a national infrastructure bank.

Leech, who was head of the C$171.4 billion ($130.93 billion; €123.48 billion) pension until 2014, will work with Canada’s Privy Council Office, Minister of Infrastructure and Minister of Finance to establish an investment programme that will mobilise private capital to help fund Canada’s largest infrastructure projects.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank was proposed in the government’s Fall Economic Statement as a way to “make investments in revenue-generating infrastructure projects and plans that continue to long-term sustainability of infrastructure across the country”.

“Mr. Leech brings with him immense knowledge and experience, and I am confident that he will help ensure a smooth and successful launch of the Canada Infrastructure Bank,” Trudeau said in a statement. “This is about making sure our public dollars go farther and are used smarter, as we make historic investments in infrastructure to create middle class jobs today and sustained economic growth for years to come.”

Before taking over as chief executive of OTPP, Leech headed the pension’s private investing arm where he oversaw growth in private equity, venture capital and infrastructure investments from C$2 billion in 2001 to over C$20 billion by 2007. When he retired from the pension in 2014, he was appointed as a special advisor to the Ontario Minister of Finance to review the sustainability of the province’s electricity sector pension.

Already home to one of the most active public-private partnership markets in the world, Canada’s infrastructure bank proposal is to invest C$35 billion from the federal government, which will help mobilise private investors to participate in developments. The economic statement said at least C$15 billion of the bank will come from previously announced infrastructure funding.

The Fall Economic Statement also proposed an additional C$81 billion for planned infrastructure funding from 2017 to 2028. Canada plans to invest in public transit, green and social infrastructure, transportation infrastructure that supports trade and rural and northern communities.