OMERS lures ex-Ivanhoé Cambridge CEO to lead Oxford

The Toronto-based pension plan will retain Michael Turner to focus on US-specific strategies.

Oxford Properties, the real estate investment arm of Canadian pension Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, will be under new leadership for the first time in five years.

The Toronto-based investor has hired Daniel Fournier, the former chairman and chief executive of Ivanhoé Cambridge, the real estate investment arm of fellow Canadian pension fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. Fournier will start in his role of executive chair at the beginning of April.

Since 2019, Fournier has been retired, spending his time serving on boards and advisory boards of multiple Quebec-based companies. He stepped down from his role at Ivanhoé after a stint of 10 years, nine of which were spent in the top job. He was succeeded by Nathalie Paladitcheff, who still serves as head of Ivanhoé today.

Navigating the organization out of the global financial crisis, Fournier oversaw almost $100 billion of capital deployment, more than doubling the firm’s assets under management from C$31 billion ($23.1 billion; €21.5 billion) to C$65 billion under his tenure. Ivanhoé’s AUM had further increased to C$69 billion at the end of 2021.

“Mr. Fournier’s extensive experience, track record of success, and in-depth knowledge of global real estate investing will be an invaluable asset to Oxford as we enter this next phase of growth across the globe,” Blake Hutcheson, OMERS’ president and CEO, said in an announcement.

Fournier is replacing someone with a similar penchant for enacting change. Michael Turner has been at Oxford for 13 years, the last five of which he spent in the top job. In 2016, Oxford’s AUM was C$41 billion but has now doubled to C$82 billion.

Turner also helped to reshape the portfolio away from the previously Canada-heavy focus. At the end of 2010, Oxford was 88 percent concentrated in its domestic market. By the end of 2021, just three years after Turner took over, the firm’s footprint was 70 percent ex-Canada.

Turner remains at Oxford, with his focus now on US-specific strategies. Oxford declined to comment beyond OMERS’ announcement and a prepared statement which read:

“Under Michael’s leadership, Oxford has diversified its global real estate portfolio, entered new markets and sectors, and added new capabilities through the acquisition of multiple real estate businesses… [We] are grateful for his continued assistance across a number of US-specific strategies.”

Oxford’s and Ivanhoé’s parent organizations are among the world’s largest real estate investors. Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec took the 16th spot on last year’s PERE Global Investor 100, our ranking of the biggest private equity real estate investors, with $33.3 billion allocated to real estate, or 10 percent of its total portfolio. Meanwhile, OMERS ranked 34, with $15.3 billion invested in the asset class, or 16 percent of its overall holdings.