OTPP hires ex-Mercer head to lead APAC fund investments

Mei-ni Yang joined the Canadian pension giant in Hong Kong earlier this month after more than five years at LP advisory Mercer.

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan has appointed Mercer’s former head of private equity for Asia-Pacific in Hong Kong, Private Equity International has learned.

Mei-ni Yang will serve as director for private capital funds, APAC, Ben Chan, OTPP’s senior managing director for Asia-Pacific, told PEI via an emailed statement. Yang will lead the team responsible for private equity fund investments in the region.

Yang joined the C$222.5 billion ($178 billion; €155 billion) pension giant in January, according to regulatory filings. She spent more than five years at LP advisory Mercer as a partner, having joined from UBS in 2016, per LinkedIn.

Mercer had not responded to a request for comment by publication time.

OTPP has expanded its Asia-Pacific footprint in recent years, opening a Singapore office in 2020 and increasing its regional headcount to just under 40, according to its 2021 annual report. The Singapore office targets investments in India, Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia.

Asia-Pacific accounted for 11 percent of OTPP’s overall investment portfolio as of end-December 2020.

OTPP currently has nine direct private equity investments in Asia, five of which were made in 2020 or later, according to the pension’s website. Recent deals include a 33.4 percent stake in Australian insurance distributer Greenstone and an investment into Korean restaurant franchiser BHC.

It has also competed three China investments via the Teachers’ Innovation Platform, a late-stage venture capital unit launched in 2019. These include autonomous driving company Pony.ai and rural financial services provider CD Finance.

Notable Asia fund commitments to date include China’s Centurium Capital Partners 2018, the 2016-vintage MBK Partners IV and India’s 2017-vintage Kedaara Capital Fund II, according to PEI data.

OTPP oversaw a C$41.8 billion private capital portfolio as of end-December 2020, representing 19 percent of the total fund. The asset class returned 13.5 percent that year against a 12.3 percent benchmark. The C$3.5 billion innovation portfolio – which did not have a benchmark – returned 16.3 percent.

“Asia-Pacific offers numerous emerging and developed markets across two continents,” Chan said in the annual report. “Enhancing our local capabilities will allow us to further generate returns to deliver on our pension promise.”