CPPIB opens in London, prepares to launch debt platform

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has tapped former Goldman Sachs rainmaker Alain Carrier to lead private investments from its second international office opened this year.

The C$123 billion ($125 billion; €80 billion) Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has opened a London office from which to scout deals in its top-performing asset classes: infrastructure, private equity and real estate.

It follows the opening of a Hong Kong office in February; and launch of a London office late last year by fellow Toronto-based pension, The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. The two pensions’ private investment arms, each of which does direct deals, have also teamed to establish mid-market funds run by local investment professionals in China and Turkey.

Alain Carrier will lead the private equity and infrastructure activities out of CPPIB’s London office, while approximately six Toronto-based CPPIB investment professionals will relocate in the near future.

Carrier joined CPPIB earlier this year from Goldman Sachs’ London office, where he advised on high-profile deals including cable company NTL’s merger with Telewest as well as NTL’s takeover of Virgin Mobile, according to a 2007 article in UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph, which first reported Carrier’s intent to leave the investment bank.

The Canadian pension has been investing in Europe for more than seven years, but feels having a dedicated team in the region allows it to better monitor current investments and evaluate new ones.

CPPIB said it has invested some C$15 billion in European private equity, real estate and infrastructure, approximately C$8.4 billion of which is currently invested.

Global expansion and geographic diversification of its portfolio were key goals set forth in the plan’s 2007 annual report.

Its 2008 report highlighted a move toward direct debt investments, including senior bank loans, infrastructure financing, second lien loans and mezzanine debt. The plan’s direct investment arm will launch a dedicated private debt platform in 2009, it said.