Caisse Hires New CIO

TORONTO (Reuters) – Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec, one of Canada’s biggest pension fund managers, said on Thursday it had hired a new chief investment officer, in its latest management move since it announced multibillion-dollar losses earlier this year.

The Caisse, which managed C$120.1 billion ($111 billion) in assets at the end of last year, said it appointed Roland Lescure to the posts of executive vice-president and chief investment officer.

“His appointment stems from an action plan under way at the Caisse since April to refocus on core operations, manage risk more effectively and generate sustained returns over the long term,” the agency said in a statement.

The Caisse shook up its management ranks in April, shortly after reporting C$39.8 billion in losses in 2008 amid global market turbulence that wreaked havoc on the portfolios of some of Canada’s chief pension funds.

“Mr. Lescure will be responsible for setting the Caisse’s investment strategy and asset allocation for its overall portfolio, as well as shaping the research underpinning its investment activities,” it said.

Lescure, currently chief investment officer at a leading French asset management firms, Groupama Asset Management, will take up his new post in the autumn.

The Caisse is an arm’s-length agency that manages investments for various public and private pension plans in the French-speaking province of Quebec.

In April it moved to beef up its risk management group, adding about 20 staff. At the same time, it cut 55 positions in areas including hedge fund investment.

It said at the time it was consolidating investment operations in the wake of the global financial crisis, with all those involving liquid markets combined into two areas — an equity markets group and one focused on fixed income and currencies.

Lescure will oversee investments in liquid markets — equities, fixed income, currencies and commodities — and will play an advisory role for private equity and real estate.

($1=$1.09 Canadian) (Reporting by Pav Jordan; editing by Rob Wilson)