CDPQ opens first Delhi office

The Canadian pension fund will invest $150 million in India’s renewable energy sector in the next three years.

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), the second largest pension fund in Canada, has opened an office in New Delhi, India and appointed former World Bank senior executive Anita Marangoly George as its managing director for South Asia.

Québec-headquartered CDPQ has also announced it will be investing $150 million in renewable energy in India in the next three to four years. This will be the first time it will commit to renewable energy companies in an emerging market like India.

According to website Make in India, the country has the fifth largest power generation portfolio worldwide with capacity of 271.722 GW, with wind energy being the largest renewable energy source in the country. It also has solar power potential of up to 750 GW, according to a report from the National Institute of Solar Energy in India.

CDPQ has said it will use its commitment to partner with leading hydro, solar, wind and geothermal power companies in the country. It is also open to investing in all sectors, with a special focus on infrastructure, real estate, financial services, health and other consumer-oriented sectors, a CDPQ spokesperson told Private Equity International .

Last month, the pension fund entered into a joint venture with Tata Power and ICICI Venture to buy out distressed power assets in India which have been crippled by debt, low demand and regulatory uncertainties, according to reports.

CDPQ had previously invested about $500 million in US-based wind power producer Invenergy, financing over 5,400 MW of wind power. It is also a major shareholder of London Array, the largest offshore wind farm in the world, generating 630 MW of wind energy.

As managing director for South Asia, George will be responsible for finding the right partners and best investment opportunities across all asset classes in the region, CDPQ said in a statement. George will be taking up the assignment from 1 April this year.

Before joining CDPQ India, George was a senior director at the World Bank Group's Global Practice on Energy and Extractives. She has previously worked at the International Finance Corporation as its director of infrastructure and natural resources and led Siemens Financial Services in India.

“We believe India stands out as an exceptional country to invest in, given the scope and quality of investments opportunities, the potential for strategic partnerships with leading Indian entrepreneurs, and the current government's intention to pursue essential economic reforms,” said Michael Sabia, president and chief executive officer of CDPQ.

The pension fund added that it aims to grow its team to around 10 investment professionals in the next two to three years.

CDPQ has over C$248 billion ($187 billion; €170 billion) in assets under management. It has offices in Montréal, Québec, New York, Washington, Mexico City, Paris, Singapore, Sydney and Beijing.

According to CDPQ's 2014 annual report it allocated about 16 percent of its overall portfolio to alternative assets, 36.5 percent to fixed income and 47.5 percent to equities. The fund had generated a 13 percent four year return on its private equity portfolio as of December 2014. Its exposure to growth and other markets stands at about 5.5 percent, compared to 38.8 percent in Canada, 37.1 percent in the US and 18.6 percent in Europe.