CDPQ CIO leaves to pursue politics

Roland Lescure, who joined CDPQ in 2009 and oversaw the growth of its PE assets, plans to pursue a political career in his native France.

The chief investment officer of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), which allocates more than 10 percent of its assets to private equity, is leaving the investment world in pursuit of a political career.

Roland Lescure, who is also executive vice president, announced on his LinkedIn page on Wednesday his plans to depart the pension and insurance investor – which allocates C$30.4 billion ($22.7 billion; €21.3 billion), or 11.2 percent, to private equity as of 31 December – to return to his native France. His departure is effective Thursday, according to a statement from CDPQ.

“On the eve of the French elections, I have decided to enter public and political life because I want to play a quite active role at a crucial time for France and for Europe,” Lescure wrote on LinkedIn. The French presidential elections will be held in two rounds, set for 23 April and 7 May. 

Lescure confirmed with Private Equity International his plans to depart CDPQ, though he did not elaborate further. A CDPQ spokesman said details of his political pursuits are unknown, and added that London-based Stéphane Etroy, who was co-head of private equity investment in Europe, will lead the private equity team in Lescure’s place as executive vice president of private equity.

CDPQ’s statement also indicated an international recruiting process has launched to search for Lescure’s replacement, and that CDPQ president and chief executive Michael Sabia will take on Lescure’s CIO responsibilities in the interim.

Sabia noted in the statement that he and Lescure had discussed involvement in public and political life for the past few months. “While building highly talented investment teams, Roland’s intellect and creativity have helped shape so many of the strategies we have pursued at la Caisse,” Sabia said in the statement.

Lescure has served as CDPQ’s executive VP and CIO since 2009, overseeing the Quebec City-based institution’s investment strategy, investment teams and operations across private and public equities, real assets, fixed income and derivatives, according to his profile on CDPQ’s website.

He was also a member of CDPQ’s executive committee and co-chair of the investment and risk committee alongside chief risk officer Claude Bergeron, and had a key advisory role in private equity and real estate investments, his LinkedIn profile indicated.

Throughout his leadership, CDPQ’s net assets under management more than doubled from around C$125 billion in 2009 to C$271 billion in 2016, and its private equity portfolio returned an annual average of 14.1 percent between 2009 and 2015 under his tenure, according to its 2015 annual report.

During the same period, CDPQ’s private equity assets grew from C$11.3 billion to C$26.1 billion.

The Canadian investor posted strong 2016 private equity returns, achieving a 14 percent net internal rate of return for the year ended 31 December, almost double the 8.4 percent net IRR from 31 December 2015, as reported by PEI.

Educated in France and the UK, Lescure had previously worked at France’s National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies and was an economist at the French department of finance, his profile on CDPQ showed.