Former BCE chief takes over at Caisse de dépôt

Michael Sabia, the ex-CEO of BCE who worked on the failed take-private of the Canada telecoms company, has been appointed president of the C$120.1bn Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec has hired former BCE chief executive officer Michael Sabia to lead the C$120.1 billion ($94.4 billion; €73 billion) pension.

Sabia was chief executive of the Canadian telecoms company until July last year, and was instrumental in the private equity bid for the organisation.

That deal by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Providence Equity Partners, Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity and Madison Dearborn Partners failed last year after auditor KPMG determined the company would emerge insolvent from the buyout. BCE filed a law suit against the consortium in December over the deal’s C$1.2 billion break-up fee.

Sabia takes over immediately as the pension fund’s president and chief executive officer. He has previously served as chief financial officer of Canadian railway CN, when the rail company was privatised and then taken public. Sabia replaces Richard Guay, who stepped down from the role in January for “personal reasons” after just nine months as interim and then official CEO.

Earlier this month, Caisse said its real estate portfolio fell in value by 21.9 percent during 2008, compared to declines of 31.4 percent for its private equity portfolio and 44.7 percent for its “investments and infrastructure” assets.

Caisse has real estate investments of approximately C$20 billion, of which 8.4 percent is invested in private equity real estate vehicles. It has previously invested with firms such as The Blackstone Group, The Carlyle Group, and Lone Star Funds.