OMERS eyes large global assets

Corporate finance lawyer Jacques Demers will lead OMERS Strategic Investments, a new investment division tasked with making very large investments for the pension in 'global asset companies' including airports, real estate and energy projects.

The Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System will in January launch OMERS Strategic Investments to pursue “really large investments” that may fall outside the mandates of the Canadian pension's existing investment groups.

Corporate finance lawyer Jacques Demers will lead the group, reporting to OMERS president and chief executive Michael Nobrega. Demers was the co-founder of law firm Meighan Demers which merged with Ogilvy Renault in 2001. He was then managing partner of the Ogilvy Renault’s Toronto office focusing primarily on mergers and acquisitions including infrastructure and natural resource-related projects.

OMERS Strategic Investments will pursue “really large investments”, a spokesman told PEO , although the group’s budget will not be determined until after 1 January.

OMERS is not new to participating in large transactions. In 2006, the pension acquired a 33.3 percent interest in Associated British Ports Holdings as part of a $6.3 billion buyout. OMERS also participated in the $1.2 billion acquisition of the Express Pipeline System which transports oil from Alberta to the US and the $1.4 billion acquisition of MDS Diagnostics.

Jacques Demers

The group will source investments in private companies “of the magnitude that requires partners”, the spokesman said. It will invest across asset classes in companies that may fall outside the asset mix policy of OMERS’ other investment groups, he added. Those groups include private equity arm OMERS Private Equity and infrastructure investment division Borealis Infrastructure.

“[Demers] will create a portfolio of what we call global asset companies that through their work around the world are aware of attractive investments, such as airports, real estate developments, energy projects and other hard assets, before they become generally known to institutional investors,” Nobrega said in a statement.

The expertise of investment professionals in OMERS’ real estate group, Oxford Properties, its infrastructure group, Borealis, and OMERS Private Equity will be leveraged as appropriate to the investment opportunities, the spokesman added.

OMERS Private Equity has roughly $3.6 billion of assets under management, while Borealis manages $25 billion and Oxford oversees approximately $16 billion.

OMERS is one of Canada's largest public pension plans, with more than C$52 billion in net assets invested on behalf of approximately 380,000 active and retired municipal employees and more than 900 local government employees in Toronto.