Former CDPQ CIO enters French politics

Roland Lescure, who more than doubled private equity assets during his tenure at the Canadian pension plan, is running for representative of French expats in North America in the French legislature.

Following Emmanuel Macron’s victory in the French presidential elections on Sunday, Roland Lescure, the former chief investment officer of la Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, announced he would run for public office on Thursday.

Lescure, who served as CIO for the C$271 billion ($198.1 billion; €182.2 billion) Canadian pension plan in Montreal for eight years, is campaigning to become the North American representative in the French legislature, a spokeswoman for the campaign confirmed with Private Equity International.

She added that his nomination was formally announced by Richard Ferrand, the secretary general of Macron’s movement, La République en Marche, during a Thursday press conference in Montreal. The campaign will begin officially on 15 May in New York.

Last month, the 50-year-old announced his departure from the Quebec-based pension and insurance investor – which allocates C$30.4 billion, or 11.2 percent, to private equity as of 31 December – to campaign for the moderate candidate Macron, as PEl reported.

Now that Macron has secured the presidency after a runoff against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, Lescure, a dual French and Canadian citizen originally from France, has proclaimed his candidacy for La République En Marche for the first of 11 global regions represented in France’s National Assembly. The first district of French expats – or la première circonscription des Français établis hors de France – consists of the US and Canada. There are 11 regions total, with one elected representative from each.

Educated in France and the UK, Lescure had previously worked as deputy chief executive officer and CIO at Groupama Asset Management and has served as deputy CEO at Nataxis Asset Management, his LinkedIn profile showed.

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.

This isn't the first time private equity has flirted with politics. Several professionals have crossed over between the public and private sectors, including Pedro Pablo Kuzcynski, who was elected president of Peru in June after serving as senior advisor at The Rohatyn Group for nearly a decade. In the US, Timothy Geithner, who was US treasury secretary during much of the global financial crisis, joined Warburg Pincus in 2013 to become its president.