PSP names new heads of RE, natural resources – Exclusive

The Canadian pension has appointed replacements for Neil Cunningham, who served in a dual role before becoming president and chief executive earlier this month.

With Neil Cunningham now the president and chief executive of PSP Investments, two executives have been appointed to assume his former roles as global head of real estate and head of natural resources, PERE has learned.

Pierre Gibeault, managing director of real estate, has been named interim head of real estate. He is responsible for identifying new partners and originating, underwriting and closing new property deals, as well as managing the pension plan’s property portfolios in Canada, the US, China and South Africa. Gibeault, who joined PSP in 2007, also currently chairs the real estate investment committee. Before PSP, he was president of the real estate finance group at Toronto-based mortgage financing company MCAP.

Meanwhile, Marc Drouin, previously managing director of natural resources, has taken on the role of head of the group. Prior to joining PSP in 2011, Drouin was head of group business development, Americas, for Johannesburg, South Africa- and London-based mining company Anglo American and before that, served as vice president of corporate development at Montreal-based mining company Alcan. 

Cunningham assumed the leadership of PSP earlier this month, replacing the outgoing André Bourbonnais, who will be joining BlackRock. He joined PSP in June 2004 as vice president of real estate investments, less than a year after PSP began investing in the asset class.

At the time of Cunningham’s start at PSP, the Ottawa-based pension held just C$74.3 million, or 0.5 percent of its total assets, in real estate. By the end of fiscal year 2017, ending March 31, PSP’s property portfolio had ballooned to C$20.6 billion ($16.29 billion; €13.21 billion), or 15.2 percent of its total C$135.6 billion in net holdings.

Real estate – for which Cunningham had acted as global head since July 2015 – is now PSP’s second-largest asset class after public markets, which accounted for 56.9 percent of its total net assets.

According to his official PSP bio, Cunningham “was instrumental in building the real estate group into one of the largest, most respected and successful institutional investment teams in the world.” Just last year, he oversaw the pension’s formation of a $1.3 billion US multifamily joint venture with Starlight Investments and the Alberta Investment Management Corporation.

Cunningham started overseeing PSP’s natural resources team in December 2016. The Canadian pension plan, which started investing in the asset class in June 2011, had C$3.7 billion in net assets in natural resources as of March 31.