OTPP’s CIO resigns amid infra outperformance

Less than two months since OTPP’s head of infra abruptly departed, the pension fund posted an 18.2% infra return, handily beating its 8% benchmark.

After two years serving as chief investment officer of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Bjarne Graven Larsen has resigned his post to return to his native Denmark.

The announcement comes as the Canadian pension reported strong results for 2017, achieving a net return of 9.7 percent and bringing net assets to C$189.5 billion ($14.7 billion; €12.0 billion) as at 31 December, 2017.

Infrastructure, which totaled C$18.7 billion at the end of last year, was the second best-performing asset class with an annual return of 18.2 percent, only slightly below private equity’s 18.8 percent and well ahead of real estate’s 6.9 percent rate of return.

The real assets portfolio, which comprises 55.7 percent real estate and 40.9 percent infrastructure, returned 10.9 percent, up from 7.7 percent in 2016.

The Canadian pension, led by chief executive Ron Mock, is one of the largest public pensions managing a direct investment programme, which he credited for benchmark-beating returns.

“This year we lowered our exposure to passive investments and moved further into active strategies where we can add value by leveraging our experience as well as our capital,” Mock said.

Mock will serve as interim CIO while the pension fund seeks a replacement for Larsen.

OTPP is also looking for a replacement for Andrew Claerhout, the former head of infrastructure and natural resources, who left in February after being with the pension fund for 13 years. In the meantime, OTPP’s managing director for Latin America, Dale Burgess, is serving as interim head of the group.