Ontario Teachers expands to London

Teachers’ Private Capital, the private equity arm of the Canadian pension, has launched its first foothold outside of Toronto with a London office led by Andrew Claerhout.

Teachers’ Private Capital, a major private equity direct investor, is expanding its presence in Europe and Africa with the establishment of a London office.

The Toronto-based firm is the private equity arm of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, the C$106 billion ($96 billion; €70 billion) pension plan that has drawn admiration across the institutional investment market because its structure primarily is that of a private corporation. Over the past 5 years, Teachers’ Private Capital has drawn down more than US$10 billion from its parent organisation for direct private equity investments.

According to Jim Leech, head of Teachers’ Private Capital and a senior vice president at the pension plan, the London office will cut down on the “fly in, fly out” activity that the firm has increasingly relied on to oversee its substantial investments outside of North America. The firm already has investments across Europe, and is part of a bidding group for South Africa’s Alexander Forbes financial services group.

The London branch of Teachers’ Private Capital will be led by Andrew Claerhout, a director who joined the firm in Toronto three years ago. He was previously with Toronto middle-market firm EdgeStone Capital and before that was with Pacific Equity Partners in Sydney.

The London office will primarily be used as a base to scout direct private equity investments as well as some partnership commitment opportunities. Leech said he eventually planned to have roughly six professionals working in the office, and professionals overseeing other asset classes – including infrastructure and real estate – would eventually use the office as a base.