North America: Infra veteran CIO resigns from Ontario Teachers’ Pension

03 April 2018 - 12:00 am UTC

Chief Investment Officer for the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) Bjarne Graven Larsen (pictured) has resigned from his position, according to a 3 April statement. 

He will be succeeded by Ron Mock, President and CEO of the OTPP, who will serve as interim CIO during the process to find Larsen’s replacement. 
A spokesperson for the OTPP declined to comment.  

Larsen began his tenure at the pension in February 2016 and the plan has since made five infrastructure investments internationally, according to Inframation Deals. Those investments include stakes in the Chicago Skyway, London City Airport, Mexico City Northern Bypass, and Stem Battery Storage.

“The plan had a total-fund net return of 9.7%,” Larsen said in the OTPP’s 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. He said the return was driven partly by strong performance from infrastructure, among other segments. 

Larsen said the depth of their portfolio meant there was a positive side to high asset prices in 2017, with values rising particularly for large-scale infrastructure assets. 

Larsen was previously the Chairman of the Investment Committee for the Copenhagen Infrastructure Fund II, a EUR 2bn platform with renewables assets held throughout the US, UK and Germany. 

Dale Burgess was recently appointed interim Head of Infrastructure & Natural Resources in February 2018 for the plan.

Infrastructure performance 
OTPP, alongside OMERS Infrastructure, realized its stake in the Channel Tunnel Rail Link HS1 asset, which includes 109km of high-speed track in the UK, for a total transaction value of GBP 1.48bn (USD 2.05bn) in September 2017. 

The pension’s net rate of return on infrastructure assets was 18.2% (8% benchmark), 12.5% (6.3%), and 13.3% (7.2%) for 1-year, 4-year, and 5-year periods, respectively.

OTPP’s net investments in the infrastructure portfolio totaled CAD 18.7bn as of 31 December 2017, compared to 17.8bn and 15.66bn for the two respective years prior. Higher valuations for existing assets drove the increase, according to the annual report. 

“We are the largest institutional investor in European airports,” the plan’s report added. The plan owns stakes in the Birmingham International Airport, Bristol Airport, Brussels Airport, Copenhagen Airports, and London City Airport, according to Inframation Deals

OTPP’s infrastructure division makes up about 10% of the entire plan’s portfolio.