Ontario Teachers’ still keen on airports

The Canadian pension says its appetite for infrastructure assets remains unchanged despite the attack on Brussels Airport, in which it holds a 39% stake.

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) will not be deterred from investing in infrastructure by last week's attacks on Brussels Airport and a metro station in the Belgian capital, OTPP’s chief executive told journalists after announcing the pension fund’s 2015 results.

“It’s not changed our view on infrastructure; it’s not changed our view on the role, the important role, that infrastructure plays in satisfying our [long-term] liabilities,” Ron Mock said, referring to the attacks that killed at least 32 people and injured more than 300.

OTPP is a major shareholder in Brussels Airport, a stake it acquired in 2011. Co-shareholders include Australia’s Macquarie, through its European infrastructure funds, and the Belgian state.

The Canadian pension fund also owns stakes in the UK's Birmingham and Bristol airports as well as Denmark's Copenhagen Airport, which make up part of its C$15.7 billion (€10.6 billion; $12.1 billion) infrastructure portfolio. In February, OTPP was also part of a consortium that successfully bid for London City Airport.

“We are long-term investors and the Brussels incident, tragic as it is, will not deter us from future such investments,” a spokesperson for OTPP told Infrastructure Investor, referring to assets such as HS1, a 109km high speed railway connecting London to the Channel Tunnel; and Global Container Terminals, which operates four container terminals in the Ports of Vancouver, New York and New Jersey.

OTPP has been investing in infrastructure since 2001. In addition to transportation, it targets sub-sectors such as energy and water. For the year ending 31 December 2015, OTPP’s infrastructure portfolio outperformed its 14.3 percent benchmark, achieving a return of 21.4 percent. The pension fund’s overall return on investment reached 13 percent for the year, with net assets hitting a record C$171.4 billion.

Based in Toronto, OTPP invests the pension fund’s assets and administers the defined-benefit pensions of 316,000 active and retired teachers in Ontario. It is Canada’s largest single-profession pension.