Ontario Teachers’ hires former ATP exec as CIO

The appointment concludes a 10-month-long process to find a successor to Neil Petroff after he retired last year.

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) has tapped Bjarne Graven Larsen, former chief investment officer (CIO) of Denmark’s largest pension fund, as its new executive vice president and CIO.

In addition to his tenure at ATP, where he also served as executive board member, Larsen was most recently chief financial officer at Novo in Copenhagen. Between these two engagements, he also led the successful turnaround of FIH Erhvervsbank, Denmark’s sixth largest-bank, after its acquisition by an ATP-led consortium in 2010.

His hire puts an end to a months-long search OTPP launched last year when Neil Petroff retired.

“With his investment expertise, global experience, forward thinking on risk management, and importantly hands-on work within a total return framework, Bjarne is uniquely positioned to be our chief investment officer,” OTPP chief executive Ron Mock said in a statement.

Commenting on his appointment, Larsen described it as “a career opportunity of a lifetime,” noting that he has admired the work of OTPP for many years and considers the pension sector one of the most important in the financial services industry.

Petroff's retirement, announced at the end of March 2015, coincided with OTPP announcing an 11.8 percent overall return for 2014 and its infrastructure portfolio exceeding its benchmark with a return of 10.1 percent. Mock has been serving as interim CIO since Petroff retired in June.

Based in Toronto, OTPP invests the pension fund’s assets and administers the defined-benefit pensions of 311,000 active and retired teachers in Ontario. It is Canada’s largest single-profession pension, ending 2014 on a record C$154.5 billion (€99.8 billion; $108.1 billion) in net assets.

The pension fund launched its infrastructure strategy in 2001 and invests across a range of infrastructure sub-sectors including transportation, energy, water and waste. Infrastructure falls under OTPP’s real assets category, which also includes real estate.

At C$34.7 billion, real assets accounted for 22.5 percent of OTPP's overall portfolio at the end of 2014, approaching the target of 23 percent set out by the institution in its 2014 Statement of Investment Policies and Procedures.