The ‘big reformer’ leading BlackRock’s long-term fund

André Bourbonnais, who oversaw a major strategy shift at Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board, will join the global asset manager in Q2.

André Bourbonnais is no stranger to change. A former colleague of the outgoing president and chief executive of Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board referred to him as “the big reformer”.

With such a reputation, it perhaps comes as little surprise that Bourbonnais is departing the C$139.2 billion ($110.5 billion; €89.6 billion) Canadian pension to spearhead a new initiative at BlackRock Alternative Investors. Bourbonnais will join the world’s largest asset manager in the second quarter of this year to head the launch of a reported $10 billion perpetual capital vehicle targeting minority stakes in family-owned business and corporate spin-outs.

Interest in long-term funds is gathering pace. Last week KKR said it had closed on $8.5 billion for its Core Investment strategy which will have an expected hold period of 15 years or more and not include recycling provisions. Apollo Global Management also plans to launch a long-term equity and credit vehicle, it announced in December.

Bourbonnais has been at the forefront of launching private markets programmes before. After joining PSP from Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in 2015, he oversaw a restructuring of the pension’s private equity group, entry to the private debt asset class and the launch of offices in New York and London, according to a statement from the fund.

During Bourbonnais’ tenure, PSP also developed a five-year strategic plan called Vision 2021. Reforms included the introduction of a new compensation framework, expansion of its investment teams and increased target sizes, according to PSP’s 2016 annual report.

He had clear plans for PSP, telling Private Equity International in May about his plans for opening offices in Asia and Australia as well as launching an in-house secondaries team.

“André had a very positive impact on PSP Investments during his time as president and CEO,” Martin Glynn, chair-designate of the PSP board, said in a statement announcing his departure. “His leadership and focused commitment made it a unique pleasure to work alongside him for the last three years.”

Bourbonnais’ new project is likely to be launched over the summer, a source familiar with the BlackRock fund told PEI. Unlike traditional private equity, BlackRock’s fund will keep capital in liquid securities from which it can withdraw when ready to start funding deals, the source noted.

“It’s a very different construct,” the source said. “A Buffett comparison is more apt than a private equity comparison.”

A BlackRock spokesman confirmed that Bourbonnais will be joining the firm later this year to lead a new initiative but declined to comment further.