Caisse Extends CEO Medical Leave to January

TORONTO (Reuters) – The Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, one of Canada’s largest institutional money managers, said on Monday that its president and chief executive would be away on medical leave longer than planned.


The Caisse has extended Richard Guay’s leave until Jan. 5, the pension fund manager said in a brief statement.


Guay, who is said to be suffering from exhaustion, went on leave on his doctor’s advice in mid-November and was due to return Dec. 10.


Meantime, the Caisse operations are being run by executive vice-president Fernand Perreault.


While press reports and some Quebec politicians have said the Caisse lost billions of dollars recently by selling investments into a falling market, the fund manager has only said it sold certain securities and took steps to adjust currency hedges because of the volatile Canadian currency.


The Caisse, which manages investments for various public and private pension plans, began the year with C$155.4 billion of assets and discloses its investment performance once a year.


It will release details of its 2008 performance in February 2009, spokesman Maxime Chagnon said.


During the Quebec provincial election campaign, opposition parties demanded that the province’s Liberal government — which is seeking reelection on Monday — reveal the extent of the Caisse’s year-to-date losses.


On Nov. 25, the Caisse dismissed a newspaper report that said global financial turmoil forced to it to dump billions of dollars worth of investments to free up cash.


The Caisse said it adjusted currency hedging operations to deal with the Canadian dollar’s instability and the volatile markets, and sold “liquid securities” in October.


The fund manager also holds Canadian asset-backed commercial paper with a notional value of C$13 billion that has been frozen for more than a year, pending a market restructuring that has been repeatedly delayed.


Other big institutional investors have written down the value of their ABCP holdings by about 30 percent, while the Caisse to date has only taken a writedown of 15 percent, or C$1.9 billion. ($1=$1.26 Canadian) (Reporting by Lynne Olver; editing by Peter Galloway)