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OMERS names chief investment officer

The pension's former real estate head, Michael Latimer, takes the CIO reins as OMERS prepares to manage third-party money as well as a multi-billion co-investment fund for institutional LPs.

Ontario Municipal Employees' Retirement System has promoted its property head Michael Latimer to chief investment officer as the Canadian pension significantly ramps up its direct investment activities.

Latimer spent the past four years as chief executive of OMERS' real estate arm, Oxford Properties, and before that was with the Toronto-based REIT, Primaris.

OMERS said in a statement the appointment would allow Michael Nobrega, president and chief executive officer of the C$43.5 billion (€28.4 billion; $39.9 billion) pension, to focus on corporate strategy.

Michael Latimer

The pension is currently trying to form a multi-billion dollar vehicle with other investors that would target large scale infrastructure and real estate assets. OMERS would oversee the fund's investment activities, managment fee-free, while representatives of the various investors will sit on an indpendent board of directors, according to an article published last month in Canada's Financial Post.

Our history has proven that if we can get into a larger product or invest as a principal capital investor, our returns are higher.

Jacques Demers

“Our history has proven that if we can get into a larger product or invest as a principal capital investor, our returns are higher,” Jacques Demers, head of OMERS' strategic investments, told the business newspaper.

OMERS also said in its statement yesterday that it will begin to “take on the investment management of third-party capital pools in Canada and internationally, under new legislated powers granted to OMERS this summer”.

The pension may also launch a debt arm, according to the Financial Post article, which noted OMERS will build out its London office, as well as add locations in Calgary and New York to support its enhanced investment initiatives.

The pension’s allocation to private equity stood at 8.5 percent as of the end of 2008. Private equity returned -13.7 percent as of the end of December, compared to returns of 6 percent and 11.5 percent for real estate and infrastructure respectively.