CPP Assets Shrink 14%

(Reuters) – Canada Pension Plan Investment Board said on Thursday the value of its assets under management shrank 14 percent in fiscal 2009, which ended March 31.

The CPP board, which manages Canada’s national pension fund, said it had assets of C$105.5 billion ($92.5 billion) for fiscal year 2009, down C$17.2 billion after operating expenses from fiscal 2008 assets of C$122.7 billion.

“The fund’s decline for the year primarily reflects an investment return of negative 18.62 per cent, or negative C$23.6 billion, offset by CPP contributions of C$6.6 billion,” the CPP board said in a statement.

The value of assets under management at Canadian pension funds has tumbled in recent months as portfolios were battered by the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

The board’s chief executive, David Denison, said the fund’s losses were linked to declines in equity markets, both public and private.

“Clearly fiscal 2009 was an extremely difficult year for the fund that we manage,” Denison said on a conference call after results were released.

Canadian public equities were down 32.3 percent in fiscal 2009, compared with a 3.2 percent gain in fiscal 2008. Canadian private equities fell 7.8 percent in fiscal 2009 and gained 2.2 percent in fiscal 2008.

Public real estate had the poorest performance by asset class, down 43.7 percent. The year before, public real estate also took the biggest hit, down 24.2 percent.

Denison said the strength in equity markets since March would likely be reflected in portfolio results.

($1=$1.14 Canadian) (Reporting by Pav Jordan; editing by Peter Galloway)