OMERS eyes EM opportunities with Singapore office

The Canadian pension is looking to make more direct investments and find new investment partners in the Asia Pacific region.

The Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System said it would open an outpost in Singapore in January 2018 in a bid to expand its emerging markets portfolio.

The Singapore office will be staffed by investment professionals representing capabilities in capital markets, infrastructure, private equity and real estate, and it is expected to complement the existing Sydney office run by OMERS Infrastructure. Michael Rolland, chief investment officer of OMERS Private Markets, has been appointed to lead the development of the Singapore office.

“Bringing the OMERS presence to Singapore is part of a multi-year strategy being carried out by OMERS to identify promising investment opportunities in emerging markets,” said the Canadian pension fund, adding that it looks to further diversify its global holdings.

It noted that the geographical distribution of OMERS’ holdings saw 40 percent of its assets located in Canada, 37 percent in the US and 17 percent in Europe, with only 6 percent in other parts of the world. It had more than C$85 billion ($66.5 billion; €56.2 billion) in net assets at the end of last year.

“The opening of the Singapore office demonstrates the potential we see in the Asia-Pacific region, both from the perspective of making direct investment and from cultivating new investment partners,” said Michael Latimer, president and chief executive of OMERS. “It is the logical next step in evolving our international footprint.”

Earlier in August, Borealis, its infrastructure arm, was renamed OMERS Infrastructure. Last year, the unit made its first major investment in Australia as a consortium member in the privatisation of Port of Melbourne, followed by its first-ever direct investment in South America early this year.

In terms of partnerships, OMERS also formed a co-investment partnership with Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund, the world’s largest pension, and the Development Bank of Japan back in 2014 to invest in global infrastructure through its Global Strategic Investment Alliance programme.

OMERS is joining other Canadian institutions which have set up their outposts in the pan-Asia region. CPPIB has established its presence in Hong Kong and Mumbai, while CDPQ also runs its Asia-Pacific hub in Singapore, in addition to its Shanghai and Sydney offices. Moreover, OTPP opened its Hong Kong office in 2013.