OTPP’s head of infra departs – exclusive

Andrew Claerhout spent 13 years at the Canadian pension and the last four-and-a-half as head of its C$18.9bn infrastructure programme.

Andrew Claerhout, head of infrastructure and natural resources at the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, has left the Canadian pension, Infrastructure Investor has learnt. It is not yet known where he will go next.

Dale Burgess, managing director, Latin America is now interim head of the pension’s Infrastructure & Natural Resources unit. He joined OTPP in 1996 and was an assistant portfolio manager in the real estate investment group prior to joining the Infrastructure team in 2003.

Claerhout had a long career at the Canadian pension, joining in 2005 and steadily climbing up the ranks. He was appointed senior vice-president, Infrastructure in 2013, after serving as vice-president, Private Capital, where he managed OTPP’s consumer, retail and industrial sectors. He also headed the pension’s London office from its 2007 opening until 2009, when he returned to Toronto.

When we caught up with him at last year’s Berlin conference, Claerhout was happy that, for the first time in its infrastructure investing history, OTPP’s infrastructure portfolio was “right-sized” at between 10 percent and 12 percent of total assets. The pension’s infrastructure portfolio amounted to C$18.9 billion ($15.1 billion, €12.1 billion) as at 30 June 2017, equivalent to 11 percent of OTPP’s then C$180.5 billion AUM.

He leaves the infrastructure unit after a strategic review that broadened its investment horizons, including the creation of a greenfield team, led by Olivia Steedman, and a willingness to target core-plus assets such as UK crematorium business Westerleigh, in addition to new geographies.

OTPP has also started divesting assets, with high-profile sales such as the UK’s HS1 high-speed rail link and the sale of a 30 percent stake in Birmingham and Bristol airports.

“You’re going to see it [asset sales] more often because of us being a mature pension,” Claerhout said at the time. “We’re reaching the place where we are right-sized in infrastructure, so if we continue to see more opportunities to invest more capital and we’re doing a good job with the ones we have, we’re going to have to look at recycling capital. In that sense, we will look at some of our portfolio and try to match it with people that have a lower cost of capital, for example.”

A spokesperson for OTPP confirmed Claerhout’s departure, but did not wish to comment further.