PSP to open Asia office, eyes Australia presence

Asia is ‘more a priority than anywhere else’ for the C$126bn Canadian pension manager’s next overseas presence, its chief executive and president told PEI.

Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments), one of Canada's largest public pensions, plans to open an office in Asia as soon as April next year and is also considering an Australian outpost.

The C$126 billion ($92 billion; €85 billion) pension manager wants to open its fourth overseas office and sixth bureau overall in either Hong Kong or Singapore within the next 12 to 18 months and has hired an executive search firm to help staff the new office, André Bourbonnais, PSP's president and chief executive, told Private Equity International.

Asia is “more a priority than anywhere else,” as a regional candidate for PSP's next hub office, Bourbonnais said. “I would like most of the asset classes to be covered there, and in terms of size, it will be between 10 and 20 [staff] when it comes to maturity.”

Bourbonnais also said PSP was considering opening a satellite office in Australia to help enhance the pension's real assets investments in Australia and New Zealand.

PSP, which manages assets for the Public Service, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Reserve Force, plans to deploy as much as C$4.5 billion in private equity globally each year, and just under C$1 billion of this will be in European direct investments, Bourbonnais said.

The pension manager announced on Tuesday it had officially opened its European hub in London. PSP has had a presence in the UK capital since September 2015 and told PEI last June that Brexit had not stalled its plans to open its office in 2017.

The pension has hired private markets investment professionals from firms including Permira, CVC Partners, Bridgepoint, BC Partners and HSBC, to staff the office, Bourbonnais said.

Europe accounts for around 20 percent of PSP's private equity portfolio, although the pension does not have a target allocation for the region.

PSP employs more than 600 professionals and manages and has offices in Ottawa, Montreal, New York, London and Luxembourg.