AimCo Seeks More Distressed Deals

(Reuters) – Alberta Investment Management Corp, which manages about C$80 billion ($72 billion) in assets, is on the lookout for investment opportunities similar to its recent purchase of a major stake in Precision Drilling Trust.

AimCo Chief Executive Leo de Bever said in an interview on Thursday that the Alberta provincial fund manager is looking for opportunities to buy into quality companies that are in a distressed situation because of the global financial crisis.

He said the ideal deal size for an investment of this kind is between C$150 million and C$400 million, but it could go higher. Ideal investments would allow AimCo to take large stakes in a listed companies.

The public-sector fund manager last month announced a C$280 million deal to buy up to 19 percent of Precision Drilling (PD_u.TO), Canada’s biggest oil driller, which had been hobbled by debt from a U.S. acquisition. [ID:nN20350378] [ID:nN24426710]

“Would we go outside of those limits for the right opportunity? Absolutely, it all depends on how much it takes to get your mind around the opportunity,” De Bever told Reuters in on the sidelines of the annual Canada Venture Capital and Private Equity Association conference in Calgary.

“Right now we are focusing on credit, we are focusing on when to pile back into the equity market and we are focusing on distressed opportunities,” he said.

Set up in early 2008, AimCo manages assets for public sector pensions and government accounts, such as the Heritage Savings Trust Fund, the “rainy day” fund where Alberta puts some of its energy revenues, as well as its sustainability fund, used to make up budget shortfalls.

It is an arm’s length entity with its own board of directors and operates like other public sector investment institutions, such as the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board or the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. ($1=$1.11 Canadian) (Reporting by Pav Jordan; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Janet Guttsman)