OMERS eyes large global assets

Corporate finance lawyer Jacques Demers will lead OMERS Strategic Investments, a new investment division tasked with making very large investments for the pension in 'global asset companies' including airports, real estate and energy projects.

The Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System will in January launch OMERS Strategic Investments to pursue “really large investments” that may fall outside the mandates of the Canadian pension's existing investment groups, including real estate developments.

Corporate finance lawyer Jacques Demers will lead the group, reporting to OMERS president and chief executive Michael Nobrega.

Demers was the co-founder of law firm Meighan Demers which merged with Ogilvy Renault in 2001. He was then managing partner of the Ogilvy Renault’s Toronto office focusing primarily on mergers and acquisitions including infrastructure and natural resource-related projects.

OMERS Strategic Investments will pursue “really large investments”, a spokesman said, although the group’s budget will not be determined until after 1 January, 2009.

Jacques Demers

The group will source investments in private companies “of the magnitude that requires partners”, the spokesman added. It will across asset classes in companies that may fall outside the asset mix policy of OMERS’ other investment groups, he added. Those groups include private equity arm OMERS Private Equity and infrastructure investment division Borealis Infrastructure.

“[Demers] will create a portfolio of what we call global asset companies that through their work around the world are aware of attractive investments, such as airports, real estate developments, energy projects and other hard assets, before they become generally known to institutional investors,” Nobrega said in a statement.

The expertise of investment professionals in OMERS’ real estate group, Oxford Properties, its infrastructure group, Borealis, and OMERS Private Equity will be utilised, the spokesman added.

OMERS Private Equity has roughly $3.6 billion of assets under management, while Borealis manages $25 billion and Oxford oversees approximately $16 billion.

OMERS is one of Canada's largest public pension plans, with more than C$52 billion in net assets invested on behalf of approximately 380,000 active and retired municipal employees and more than 900 local government employees in Toronto.