Meet the woman set to take over CPP Investments’ $100bn PE portfolio

Suyi Kim, previously head of Asia at the Canadian pension giant, has been named to lead its private equity unit globally.

CPP Investments has appointed Suyi Kim, senior managing director and head of Asia-Pacific at the pension, as its global head of private equity.

She replaces Shane Feeney, who left the pension in June to become global head of secondaries at Toronto-based Northleaf Capital Partners.

Kim will be the C$497.2 billion ($398.7 billion; €335.8 billion) pension’s first-ever female global head of the asset class. She will assume her role on 15 September, according to a statement.

Kim’s credentials span a 25-year career in finance and private equity, with her most notable role as the chief architect of CPPIB’s PE business in Asia. She set up the fund’s first international office in Hong Kong in 2008 and has overseen the private equity business in the region – from the only person in the office and no portfolio back then to C$22.4 billion in Asia by fiscal 2021. Known around the region for her brisk authority and confidence, Kim has cut mega-deals with the largest pan-Asia firms including a $4.3 billion deal in 2017 alongside Baring Private Equity Asia to acquire Nord Anglia Education, a Hong Kong-based operator of international schools.

With outposts in Mumbai and Sydney, she heads up CPP Investments’ entire Asia-Pacific business with assets of about C$120 billion and a staff of 160. CPP Investments’ bold bets in the region include a $100 million investment in 2011 in Chinese internet company Alibaba and most recently, $800 million in Indian e-commerce company Flipkart. Under her leadership, the pension backed the region’s most prominent PE firms including FountainVest Partners, Hillhouse Capital Group, PAG and MBK Partners.

Kim is also a proponent of workplace diversity and finding the right talent, which was a challenge especially in Asia, she had told us during an interview in 2018. “We’re hoping that we have more people coming in at the junior level, but it’s also very important to develop and move them up to more senior positions,” she said.

Prior to joining CPP Investments in 2007, she was a portfolio manager at Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and had also worked for Carlyle Group, McKinsey and PwC, according to her LinkedIn.

Commenting on the appointment, John Graham, president and chief executive of CPP Investments said: “Suyi’s background in private equity, extensive experience leading our Asia-Pacific business and deep knowledge of the organisation makes her ideally suited for this role, and demonstrates the depth of our leadership team.”

Her promotion comes at a significant time for the pension – the largest investor in private equity, according to Private Equity International‘s Global Investor 100 ranking – having recorded its best-ever annual return at 20.4 percent net return for the year ended 31 March.

For fiscal 2021, PE generated a net return of 36.3 percent and net income of C$34 billion, according to its latest annual report. Over the past five years, private equity has produced a net return of 17.5 percent and net income of C$68 billion.

Kim will oversee CPP Investments’ C$125.1 billion PE portfolio that’s comprised of three programmes – direct private equity, funds and secondaries and Asia PE.

Two key priorities for PE over the near-term are “improving its data science capabilities and embracing alternative data analytics in investment decisions” and tapping the pension’s “strong cross-platform” for industry and geographic insights, Feeney told PEI in June.

Emerging markets India and China are also a key focus. CPP Investments has a big expansion plan into China, which already accounts for more than 20 percent of its PE portfolio. Kim has her goal set on increasing this exposure to C$150 billion by 2030, she told us in February 2018.

CPP Investments has not yet named its new head of Asia-Pacific.

Read our in-depth interview with Kim in 2018 here.