OTPP heads to Singapore with OMERS’ infra exec in tow

Bruce Crane of OMERS Infrastructure will join the Canadian pension on Monday as managing director, infrastructure and natural resources for Asia-Pacific, becoming OTPP’s first Singapore-based employee.

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, one of the largest pension funds in the world, is moving ahead with previously-announced plans to open an office in Singapore, which will serve as a base for pursuing infrastructure opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region.

To that end, it has hired Bruce Crane, who most recently served as managing director at the infrastructure investment division of rival pension OMERS. Based in Singapore, he was responsible for leading infrastructure-related efforts in Asia, according to the OMERS Infrastructure website.

Crane, who will join OTPP as managing director, infrastructure and natural resources, Asia-Pacific on 31 August, will continue to be based in Singapore.

“Singapore offers a prime location for us to access Asia-Pacific’s numerous emerging growth and developed markets,” OTPP’s chief investment officer Ziad Hindo, told Infrastructure Investor. “Broadly speaking, our Singapore office will focus on the India, Australia-New Zealand and ASEAN markets. Our existing Hong Kong office will focus on the north APAC geographies – including Greater China, South Korea and Japan,” he added.

Plans to expand into Asia have been in the works for a while. In an interview with Reuters last year, then chief executive Ron Mock had said the pension fund was looking to grow both its European and Asian operations “extensively”. Speaking about Asia specifically, he said the region “represents a growth opportunity over the next 10-15 years”.

According to Hindo, opening an office in Singapore is “an important next step in furthering Ontario Teachers’ international ambitions and enhancing our presence in Asia”.

Asked why OTPP had decided to launch its Singapore office with an initial focus on infrastructure and natural resources, Hindo replied: “Infrastructure and natural resources will locate its Asia team in the Singapore office, given the proximity to the growth opportunities in India, ASEAN and ANZ. High conviction equities will also locate a team in Singapore – in addition to the existing HCE team in Hong Kong – to further optimise its coverage of APAC.”

To date, OTPP has made two infrastructure investments in the region. The first is the Sydney Desalination Plant, in which OTPP first invested in 2012. In March, it increased its stake in the plant to 60 percent, while Morrison & Co’s Utilities Trust of Australia, owns the remaining 40 percent.

Last August, OTPP agreed to commit $250 million to the NIIF Master Fund, one of three vehicles managed by India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund. Under the terms of that agreement, OTPP will also have the right to co-invest up to $750 million alongside the Master Fund in the future.

As of 31 December, OTPP’s infrastructure portfolio stood at C$17 billion ($12.9 billion; €10.9 billion), accounting for 8.2 percent of the fund’s total AUM of C$207.4 billion.