CPPIB sitting out Saudi Aramco IPO
The head of Canada’s largest pension plan says while there’s still money to be made in Canadian energy, investors need to be aware of the risks involved.
“We look at everything through that risk-return lens,” Mark Machin, chief executive officer of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, told BNN Bloomberg in an interview taped on Tuesday.
“If it’s a pipeline and we understand all those risks, [that] the regulation may change, the preference may change, the geography may change, all those things. If we can understand those and we can still be compensated sufficiently in the return that we expect from that investment, then we’ll continue to make that investment.”
Machin’s comments come as a growing feeling of alienation among Western Canadians drags on consumer confidence, as well as a trend that finds some major Canadian energy companies trying to distance themselves from the country’s name.
He said that those factors should not sway how fellow pension plans and public funds treat their appetite for Canadian investment.
“Canada as a place, and Canadians in general, have a wonderful brand in most parts of the world,” Machin said.
“As a place to invest, I think – like with every country in the world - stability of regulation, stability of tax policy, stability of the investment environment is really key, [as is] transparency over those things. Canada is not a bad place on those things.”
Machin added that CPPIB continues to be “very, very overweight” on its Canadian investment, relative to the country’s global economic heft, attributing his comfort with that domestic exposure to a heightened awareness of both the potential risks and rewards.
However, Machin refused to wade into simmering interprovincial debate, adding that it hasn’t had an effect on CPPIB’s investment strategy.
“With respect to regional politics in Canada, it’s sort of above my pay grade,” he said. “It’s not something that affects how we invest. We’re mindful of risks and we look at risk, and regulatory risk, and regulatory change in any place we invest.”
CPPIB has diversified beyond reliance on traditional oil-and-gas plays in its investments. The company agreed to invest up to $305 million into the construction of the Carbon Trunk Line, a pipeline dedicated to transporting carbon dioxide away from heavy emitters, in August of 2018. The company also announced its US$2.6 billion purchase of renewable power producer Pattern Energy Group Inc. on Monday.
However, as CPPIB broadens its scope towards sustainability and environmental responsibility, Machin says that doesn’t mean the company is abandoning traditional Canadian energy plays.
“We look across the energy spectrum for opportunities, he said. “But, yes, we will look at traditional oil and gas, whether it’s pipelines or other resources.”