CPPIB’s Feeney departs as private equity head to join Northleaf Capital

Shane Feeney has been responsible for overseeing the pension giant's roughly $101bn private equity portfolio.

Shane Feeney

The head of private equity at Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is leaving the pension, Private Equity International has learned.

Shane Feeney, who became head of the asset class in 2018, is set to join Northleaf Capital Partners, according to three sources familiar with the matter. Feeney was responsible for overseeing CPPIB’s C$125.1 billion ($101 billion; €85 billion) PE portfolio, which includes direct private equity, funds, secondaries and co-investments, and private equity Asia groups.

Feeney will become global head of secondaries at Northleaf, according to Michael Flood, Northleaf managing director, who confirmed Feeney’s hire to PEI. As part of the appointment, New York-based managing director Matthew Shafer becomes global head of direct private equity, Flood added.

Feeney also spearheaded the move to integrate the fund’s direct investments, fund investments, secondaries and Asia investments on to one platform.

It is understood that Feeney will stay on at CPPIB to ensure an orderly transition, and that a succession process is underway.

CPPIB is the world’s largest investor in private equity, according to PEI‘s Global Investor 100 ranking. In an interview with PEI for last year’s ranking, Feeney said the private equity model was “pretty tested” and had a long history of delivering strong performance.

“Having said that, clearly we have been investing the last couple of years with, as we all know, very elevated purchase prices and a lot of capital in the system chasing transactions. But I think as an industry we’ve been appropriately prudent and selective. I see a bright future for the industry.”

CPPIB has made three commitments to Northleaf funds since 2014 totalling C$503.5 million, according to its website.

The news of Feeney’s departure comes a week after the CPPIB president and chief executive Mark Machin’s last day at the pension. Machin, who resigned in February, has since joined Singapore VC firm Serendipity Capital’s board as a non-executive director, the firm said on Sunday.

CPPIB generated strong performance in its PE portfolio in fiscal 2021, with net returns of 36.3 percent and net income of C$34 billion, according to its latest annual report. That compares with a 5.8 percent net return and C$5.2 billion in net income in fiscal 2020. PE assets also grew from C$94.6 billion to C$125.1 billion over the course of 12 months.

The fund has been a net seller of private fund stakes for the second straight year, following two years of heavy commitment to the strategy, as reported by affiliate title Secondaries Investor. The pension made C$0.46 billion in commitments across five secondaries transactions in the 12 months to March, representing a 35 percent decline from fiscal 2020 and a nearly 90 percent drop from fiscal 2019.

Northleaf has $16 billion in commitments under management and is active in private equity, private credit and infrastructure. Last year it sold a 49.9 percent non-controlling position to IGM Financial’s Mackenzie Investments and Great-West Lifeco for C$245 million. Northleaf’s leadership retained a 50.1 percent stake and continue to run the firm independently.

A spokesman for CPPIB declined to comment.