Four-year annualized return reaches 9.6% - 12% return for 2014

Net assets reach $226 billion

MONTRÉAL, Feb. 25, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec today released its financial results for the year ended December 31, 2014, and announced that the weighted average return on its clients' funds reached 9.6% over four years and 12% over one year.

Net assets attributable to clients totalled $225.9 billion, compared to $151.7 billion as at December 31, 2010, increasing by $74.2 billion over four years. During that period, net investment results totalled $67.2 billion and net deposits were $7.0 billion.

CAISSE NET ASSETS OVER FOUR YEARS
A chart is available on the Caisse's website

In 2014, la Caisse's 12% return generated $23.8 billion of net investment results, in addition to $1.9 billion in net deposits. Each of the three major asset classes – Fixed Income, Inflation-Sensitive Investments and Equities – made substantial contributions to the overall performance of the portfolio.

"Our portfolio has shown its resilience in the face of increased volatility brought about by the collapse in oil prices, the continued decline in interest rates and the strong appreciation of the U.S. dollar," said Michael Sabia, President and Chief Executive Officer of la Caisse. "The second half of 2014 tested the soundness of our investment strategy and we continued to deliver results that exceed our clients' long-term needs."

Longer-term results

Over five years, la Caisse's annualized return is 10.4%. Over 10 years, la Caisse had a 6.5% annualized return, despite the financial crisis. This return demonstrates la Caisse's solid performance since 2009, in line with its clients' long-term needs.

RETURNS BY ASSET CLASS
A chart is available on the Caisse's website

"Our strategy is clear: tangible assets and projects, high-quality securities with more stability and less risk, increased exposure to global growth and a meaningful impact in Québec," Mr. Sabia said. "This strategy is delivering solid returns over the long term. In a market environment that promises to be more complex over the next few years, we intend to stay the course."

Over four years, the returns of la Caisse's eight largest clients range from 8.9% to 10.2%, and in 2014, from 11.0% to 12.5%.

HIGHLIGHTS – INVESTMENT STRATEGY

Absolute-return management

La Caisse's investment strategy centres on an absolute-return approach in which investment portfolios are built on strong convictions, irrespective of benchmark indices. These indices are only used ex post, to measure the portfolios' performance. The approach is based on active management and rigorous, fundamental analysis of potential investments.

La Caisse now constructs most of its portfolios using this approach. The Global Quality Equity and Canadian Equity portfolios, as well as investments in less-liquid assets – real estate, infrastructure and private equity – are already managed using this absolute-return approach. In time, this strategy will apply to 75% of la Caisse's investments.

The Global Quality Equity portfolio, a cornerstone of this strategy, reached $28.3 billion in net assets as at December 31, 2014. Since its inception, in 2013, it has generated an annualized return of 25.2%.

The Canadian Equity portfolio was repositioned and is now considerably more focused on securities selected on the basis of strong investment convictions, such as the durable recovery in the United States. The portfolio returned 13.4% in 2014, outperforming markets. 

Less-liquid assets

La Caisse's strategy also focuses on tangible assets that generate more stable and predictable current yields, in line with its clients' long-term needs. The expected increase in volatility in equity markets and the low yields expected in bond markets reinforce the importance of these more resilient assets in la Caisse's overall portfolio.

These portfolios have generated solid performances over time, returning 12.7% over four years. They significantly outperformed the equity market and fixed income portfolios, which returned, respectively, 10.1% and 5.6% over the four-year period. The same holds true for the 10-year period.

Between 2010 and 2014, the three portfolios of less-liquid assets underwent important changes.

First, the weight of external funds in the Private Equity portfolio went from almost 70% in 2010 to less than 45% in 2014, in favour of direct investments with a superior performance over four years.

In real estate, 2014 was a banner year for Ivanhoé Cambridge. La Caisse's subsidiary accelerated the implementation of its strategy and carried out a record volume of transactions, with $5.1 billion in acquisitions and $8.6 billion in dispositions. All transactions had the same objective: disposing of non-strategic properties to refocus on assets of the highest quality, and building a critical mass in key sectors and markets. As a result, Ivanhoé Cambridge disposed of 21 hotels and acquired multi-residential and logistics properties, two sectors in which it intends to expand in the future. It also sold properties in Munich and Frankfurt and increased its footprint in Manhattan, Seattle and Denver.

In infrastructure, la Caisse continued geographical and sectoral diversification of its portfolio, which more than doubled in size over the past four years. In 2014, it carried out three major transactions, including two in the United States (Indianapolis Power & Light Company and Invenergy) and one in the United Kingdom (London Array).

In order to increase its investments in less-liquid assets and generate even greater value through operational expertise, la Caisse plans to build on its existing infrastructure expertise in the years to come. As such, if approved by Québec's National Assembly, it plans to establish CDPQ Infra, a new subsidiary that will carry out public infrastructure projects in an integrated manner – from planning to operation – as it already does in real estate. Initially, two public transit projects in Québec have been proposed. La Caisse intends to export this new business model to global infrastructure markets, which offer substantial opportunities.

Impact in Québec

In Québec, la Caisse continued to play a leading role with companies at all stages of their growth, focusing in particular on those with plans to expand outside Québec. In 2014, more than a third of the investments in growth capital and private financing supported the expansion of Québec companies elsewhere in Canada and internationally. In this regard, la Caisse invested in WSP, KDC, Agropur, ALT Hotels and the architectural firm Lemay. New investments and commitments in Québec companies totalled $2.5 billion in 2014, reaching more than $11.1 billion over four years. Assets in Québec reached $60 billion as at December 31.

La Caisse's impact in Québec goes well beyond these numbers since it strives above all to play a sustained and impactful role in the economy. Through various initiatives, la Caisse fosters the development of SMEs, strengthens Québec's entrepreneurial culture and partners in projects with benefits far beyond the dollars invested. The Innover. Agir. program, the anticipated creation of CDPQ Infra and the investment facilitating the development of Manulife's presence in Québec are only a few examples.

Global footprint

In the past four years, la Caisse shifted 5% of its exposure in Canada to other markets so as to diversify its portfolio and further capitalize on global growth. Today, more than 47% of its exposure is outside the country. This represents more than $117 billion in foreign assets, versus $72 billion at the end of 2010.

This increased footprint in the global marketplace is reflected in $4.5 billion of real estate acquisitions in the United States and $3.8 billion in infrastructure investments in the United States and Australia. Announcements made in early 2015 bring real estate investments in the United States to more than $7 billion since the end of 2010. In growth markets, Ivanhoé Cambridge invested more than $1 billion, mainly to strengthen its shopping centre platform in Brazil, where assets grew by 180% over four years.

La Caisse deployed almost $2 billion in public equity markets alongside established partners in Brazil, China and India. These partners were selected for their in-depth knowledge of emerging public markets and their absolute-return approach, aligned with that of la Caisse.

In 2014, la Caisse opened offices in Washington, D.C., and Singapore. In 2015, it will open offices in Mexico City and Sydney, two key markets.

FINANCIAL REPORTING

Over the past year, la Caisse continued to improve its efficiency and pay close attention to operating expenses. Including external management fees, operating expenses totalled $328 million in 2014. The ratio of expenses was 16 cents per $100 of average net assets, compared to 17 cents in 2013 and 19.4 cents in 2010. This ratio continues to position la Caisse among global leaders in its category.

Finally, the credit rating agencies reaffirmed la Caisse's investment-grade ratings with a stable outlook, namely AAA (DBRS), AAA (S&P) and Aaa (Moody's).

ABOUT LA CAISSE DE DÉPÔT ET PLACEMENT DU QUÉBEC

La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec is a long-term institutional investor that manages funds primarily for public and parapublic pension and insurance plans. As at December 31, 2014, it held $226 billion in net assets. As one of Canada's leading institutional fund managers, la Caisse invests globally in major financial markets, private equity, infrastructure and real estate. For more information: www.lacaisse.com.

Returns
A chart is available on the Caisse's website

FIXED INCOME

DESCRIPTION

The Fixed Income asset class helps reduce the level of overall portfolio risk and allows for better matching of clients' assets and liabilities. It also constitutes a substantial source of liquidity for la Caisse.

It consists of four portfolios. The Bond and Real Estate Debt portfolios, with net assets totalling $73.3 billion, are managed actively, whereas the Short Term Investment and Long Term Bond portfolios, with net assets totalling $9 billion, are indexed.

MARKET CONTEXT

An unprecedented number of monetary stimulus measures were deployed in the United States between 2011 and 2014. Meanwhile, in Europe, authorities of several countries focused their efforts on austerity measures while the European Central Bank (ECB) chose to inject liquidity into the financial system. The increased liquidity resulting from quantitative easing, as well as concerns about the risk of deflation in the euro zone and lower commodity prices, drove long-term interest rates down to record lows. The likelihood of monetary tightening in the United States continues to be very real, with the end of the Federal Reserve's asset-purchase program and the improving labour market.

After rising in 2013, Government of Canada 10-year bond yields ended 2014 at 1.9%, down close to 1% from the beginning of the year.

Government of Canada 10-year bond yields
A chart is available on the Caisse's website

HIGHLIGHTS
A chart is available on the Caisse's website

The Fixed Income portfolios took advantage of declining interest rates in recent years. Over four years, this asset class generated net investment results of $14 billion and its annualized return was 5.6%, or 0.7% above the benchmark index. In 2014, the Fixed Income asset class returned 8.4%.

BONDS

With net assets of $62.9 billion, this actively managed portfolio represented 27.9% of  clients' total net assets at the end of 2014.

Over four years, it posted net investment results of $10.4 billion and an annualized return of 5.6%, outperforming its benchmark index by 0.5%. With the significant decline in bond yields in 2014, the portfolio generated a return of 8.2%.

Lower yields resulted in solid returns for bond indexes over the past four years. Corporate bonds recorded a 5.7% return and provincial bonds generated a 6.3% return while Government of Canada bonds returned 3.9% during the same period. The outperformance  by provincial bonds is due mainly to their longer maturity. In corporate bonds, this outperformance is due to their higher current yields and tightening of credit spreads.

In 2014, the Bond portfolio's strategy was maintained to benefit from the economic upturn and the gradual normalization of interest rates over the long term. This strategy has two components:

  • An overweight position in provincial bonds, particularly Québec bonds, and bonds issued by public and private companies, to obtain a higher current yield and to capitalize on narrowing credit spreads; and
  • A positioning that anticipates potentially higher interest rates in developed countries over the long term.

REAL ESTATE DEBT

This actively managed portfolio consists of senior Canadian commercial mortgage loans on quality real estate assets.

Over four years, the portfolio's net investment results reached $2.4 billion. The annualized  return was 7.9%, or 2.8% more than the benchmark index. More than half of this absolute return came from the current yield.

The portfolio's value added during this period came mainly from the current yield and from the narrowing of credit spreads, which were higher than those of the index.

In 2014, the portfolio returned 11.9%. Lower interest rates accounted for almost half of this result.

SHORT TERM INVESTMENTS

This indexed portfolio had an annualized return of 1.1% over four years and 1% in 2014. These results reflect the low level of short-term interest rates in recent years.

LONG TERM BONDS

This indexed portfolio corresponds to a little less than 1% of clients' net assets. Over four years, the portfolio generated an annualized return of 7.9%. The 18.2% return in 2014 was due to lower long-term interest rates.

INFLATION-SENSITIVE INVESTMENTS

DESCRIPTION

The Inflation-Sensitive Investments asset class consists of three portfolios: Real Estate, Infrastructure and Real Return Bonds. The investment income generated by these assets is generally inflation-linked so as to partially hedge the inflation risk associated with the liabilities of many Caisse clients.

The Real Estate and Infrastructure portfolios, which represent $33 billion of net assets, are actively managed based on an absolute-return approach. The Real Return Bonds portfolio, with $1 billion of net assets, is indexed.

MARKET CONTEXT

The economic recovery over the past four years in the United States, combined with falling interest rates, enabled this asset class to generate high returns. Moreover, strong demand from institutional investors for real estate and infrastructure assets continues to put constant upward pressure on prices. These less-liquid assets are popular because they offer an excellent risk-return profile and a high, stable current yield, while enabling managers to diversify risk within an overall portfolio.

In the case of real estate, the liquidity arising from the accommodative policies adopted by central banks reduced the risk premiums associated with certain markets. In addition, shopping centres and office buildings generated a sound current yield in Canada and the United States, mainly due to strong rental revenues.

With more pronounced volatility in the equity markets and low yields expected in the bond markets, investor appetite for infrastructure was stronger than ever. The objective of governments to reduce their budget deficits also substantially increased the number of infrastructure transactions carried out by private investors.

HIGHLIGHTS OF RESULTS
A chart is available on the Caisse's website

The Inflation-Sensitive Investments asset class recorded the highest absolute results for la Caisse over the past four years. During that period, it generated $12.4 billion of net investment results and an annualized return of 12.1%. The 2014 return for this asset class was 11%.

REAL ESTATE

Over four years, the Real Estate portfolio generated an annualized return of 12.1% and $8.8 billion of net investment results. For 2014, the portfolio had a 9.9% return. These returns exceed the long-term target.

During the period, the portfolio benefited from significant increases in the value of its shopping centres and office buildings in North America. In addition, these properties generated strong rental revenues as a result of their high occupancy rates.

The benchmark index returned 13.8% over four years mainly because it is not affected by the weak performance of the hotel sector.

In 2014, la Caisse's real estate subsidiary Ivanhoé Cambridge continued the strategic repositioning of its portfolio, carrying out a record volume of transactions, with $5.1 billion in acquisitions and $8.6 billion in dispositions.

  • In the United States, Ivanhoé Cambridge invested more than US$630 million in its office building platform, acquiring high-quality buildings in the heart of Manhattan, Seattle and Denver. In San Francisco, with its new partner Veritas, it acquired its first 580 multiresidential units in the heart of the city. With the objective of enlarging its footprint in the United States, Ivanhoé Cambridge recently announced, along with its partner Callahan Capital Properties, the acquisition of Three Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, for US$2.2 billion.
  • In Europe, along with Blackstone, Ivanhoé Cambridge became the largest shareholder of Gecina, France's third-largest publicly traded real estate company. In addition, five acquisitions in key markets doubled the value of the logistics and warehouse company P3 Logistic Parks, owned in partnership with TPG.
  • In Québec, Ivanhoé Cambridge concluded a co-ownership agreement with Manulife to build, own and operate an office building at 900 de Maisonneuve Ouest, in downtown Montréal. In 2014, it also completed the historic restoration and renovation of the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac.
  • In line with its strategy, Ivanhoé Cambridge divested itself of properties that no longer fit its quality profile or its target sectors and markets. As a result, it disposed of 21 hotels, including a portfolio of 18 hotels in Europe, as well as buildings in Munich and Frankfurt, markets where it does not intend to build critical mass. It also sold a portfolio of retail and office buildings in Canada for a total of $1.5 billion.

Sectoral breakdown of the Real Estate portfolio
A chart is available on the Caisse's website

INFRASTRUCTURE

Over four years, the Infrastructure portfolio produced a 13.8% annualized return and generated $3.3 billion of net investment results. In 2014, the portfolio had a return of 13.2%. These returns exceed the long-term target.

The current yield, which reflects strong results by the operating companies in the portfolio, accounted for more than 60% of the portfolio's return during the period. The increase in the value of the assets in the portfolio, a result of their high quality as well as investor appetite for this asset class, accounted for close to 40% of the performance over four years.

Over the past four years, the size of the Infrastructure portfolio has more than doubled, growing from $4.3 billion in assets in 2010 to more than $10 billion at the end of 2014. This significant increase has allowed for greater diversification of the portfolio from both geographic and sectoral standpoints. As the following table shows, the portfolio's construction is geared to further deployment of capital in the United States and Australia, with less concentration in Europe. The portfolio is growing rapidly and is currently concentrated in about 10 major assets representing close to 90% of its value.

Geographic breakdown of the Infrastructure portfolio from 2010 to 2014
A chart is available on the Caisse's website

Over four years, the benchmark index had a 17.9% return. The return on the 60 public securities that make up this liquid index was boosted significantly by the international equity markets' exceptional performance over the past four years. Of this return, only 25% was due to the current yield generated by companies. More than 75% of the return stemmed from the general rise in equity markets and capital gains associated with strong investor appetite for this asset class.

In 2014, the portfolio's managers carried out acquisitions totalling $1.3 billion. In the United States, la Caisse acquired a 30% interest in Indianapolis Power & Light Company, a retail electric service provider, and a 24.7% stake in Invenergy, a North American leader in wind power. At the start of the year, la Caisse acquired a 25% interest in London Array, the world's largest offshore wind farm, off the coast of the United Kingdom.

 In the years to come, la Caisse will continue to make significant investments in infrastructure, particularly in Québec, the United States and in growth markets. This asset class is central to its investment strategy, especially in an environment of low interest rates and greater volatility in the equity markets.

Moreover, la Caisse recently announced that it would put in place a new business model to carry out major public infrastructure projects. The model will be implemented first in Québec and will enable la Caisse to further develop its expertise in project operations. This will give la Caisse a competitive advantage enabling it to increase its exposure to infrastructure elsewhere in the world.

REAL RETURN BONDS

This indexed portfolio generated an annualized return of 4.6% over four years. The 13.2% return for 2014 was due to lower real rates, which significantly increased the prices of long-term bonds.

EQUITIES

DESCRIPTION

The Equity asset class comprises six portfolios. The Canadian Equity, Global Quality Equity, Emerging Markets Equity and Private Equity portfolios, with net assets totalling $87.1 billion, are managed actively. Meanwhile, the U.S. Equity and EAFE (Europe, Australasia and Far East) Equity portfolios, with net assets totalling $19.8 billion, are indexed.

MARKET CONTEXT

Disparities in the monetary policies of central banks and in the budgetary policies of governments caused significant differences in the economic and stock market performances of the various countries. Over four years, the stock market in the United States, driven by expansionary monetary policy and improved corporate earnings, recorded the best performance of all the world's stock markets.

Four-year annualized returns of the main benchmark indexes in Canadian dollars
A chart is available on the Caisse's website

After several years of difficult adjustments, the U.S. economy is in much better shape, with a significant decrease in the unemployment rate. Its underlying dynamics are robust and will be strengthened by the drop in oil prices.

In the euro zone, however, the economic situation deteriorated and is becoming increasingly complex. Improvements have been made to Europe's institutional framework, but the strategy based on budgetary austerity and the injection of liquidity by the European Central Bank (ECB) only yielded disappointing growth and low inflation. The economic situation forced the ECB to respond more aggressively by announcing a vast quantitative easing program in January 2015, following in the footsteps of the Bank of Japan and the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The sharp decline in the price of oil in 2014 had an adverse impact on producing countries, including Canada, as well as on the energy sector.

Most of the growth economies slowed significantly from 2011 to 2014 as the impacts of the major budgetary stimulus put in place in 2009, especially in China, diminished. Even so, some countries fared better than others by opting for monetary and budgetary discipline and putting in place structural reforms.

HIGHLIGHTS OF RESULTS
A chart is available on the Caisse's website

Over four years, the Equity asset class was the biggest contributor to la Caisse's overall return, generating net investment results of $36.5 billion, including more than $9 billion from the Private Equity portfolio. Over the period, the annualized return on this asset class totalled 10.7%, slightly outperforming its benchmark index. For 2014, the return on this asset class was 13.9%.

GLOBAL QUALITY EQUITY

The Global Quality Equity portfolio, created in 2013, invests in established large cap companies with exposure to global growth as well as more stable results with reduced risk. Since inception, the portfolio has had a 25.2% annualized return compared to 18.6% for its benchmark index. This is too brief a period to draw conclusions, but the results exceed expectations.

In 2014, the portfolio took advantage of the strong performance by the U.S. stock market and returned 18.5%. This strong return is due largely to the portfolio's significant exposure to major international companies established in the United States, many of them in the health care, consumer products and industrials sectors.

CANADIAN EQUITY

The Canadian Equity portfolio generated a 5.9% annualized return over four years, underperforming its benchmark index by 0.3%, and produced net investment results of $5.4 billion. Since it was repositioned in 2012, the portfolio's performance has improved considerably. During that period, it produced a 12% annualized return, outperforming its benchmark by 0.6%.

The heavy weighting in the technology and consumer products sectors, combined with effective security selection in these sectors, made a positive contribution to the portfolio's four-year relative return. Even so, the portfolio's positioning in the industrials sector as well as security selection in the materials sector, subtracted value.

Québec securities account for 34% of la Caisse's portfolio, compared to 17% for the S&P/TSX Index. Over four years, the Morningstar National Bank Québec Index has returned 14.1%, versus 5.1% for the S&P/TSX during the same period.

In 2014, the portfolio had a solid return of 13.4%. During the year, the managers increased their investments based on an absolute-return approach, constructing a more concentrated portfolio focused on businesses with greater exposure to the U.S. market. Their security selection in the consumer staples sector, combined with that sector's heavy weighting, also contributed significantly to the portfolio's outperformance.

EMERGING MARKETS EQUITY

The annualized return on this portfolio is 2.4% over four years, or 0.2% more than its benchmark index. The portfolio has been managed actively since July 2013.

Economic growth in the main emerging countries – Brazil, China, South Korea and India – slowed during the past four years, and the equity markets in these countries underperformed those of the developed markets over the same period. Nevertheless, the growth forecasts for the emerging economies indicate that these markets will expand in the years to come.

The drop in oil prices in 2014 accentuated the disparities between the countries. Oil exporters, especially those in Latin America, underperformed the Asian countries, which are generally net energy consumers.

U.S. EQUITY AND EAFE EQUITY

Both of these portfolios are indexed.

The U.S. Equity portfolio geneated a 20.1% annualized return over four years and 24% in 2014. The stronger U.S. dollar vis-à-vis the Canadian dollar increased the portfolio's return significantly during that period.

The EAFE Equity portfolio produced a 9.2% annualized return over four years. Its 4% return for 2014 is due mainly to the negative returns recorded by the French and German stock markets.

PRIVATE EQUITY

Over four years, the Private Equity portfolio generated substantial net investment results of $9 billion, with a 13% annualized return. In 2014, the portfolio returned 12.1%. These returns exceed the long-term target return.

The increase in the valuation multiples of the companies in the portfolio, along with their improved operating performance, lower debt levels and higher earnings, contributed to the portfolio's solid absolute return over the past four years. Moreover, many of the companies in the portfolio took advantage of lower interest rates to refinance their debt.

In recent years, the portfolio's makeup has changed significantly as a result of the decision to decrease the proportion of funds in favour of direct investments. As a result, the portfolio's weighting of funds went from 68% in 2009 to 44% at the end of 2014. This decision was profitable as direct investments outperformed funds during the past four years.

Over the four-year period, the benchmark index returned 14% as a result of its significant exposure to the U.S. market, which has recorded an exceptional performance since 2011.

La Caisse continued to adjust the Private Equity portfolio's investment strategy, in line with its new approach, which calls for it to:

  • position itself as a leading global private equity investor, in terms of size and performance;
  • invest with a long-term philosophy by staying the course despite market volatility and aligning the portfolio's construction with the investment cycle; and
  • support expanding Québec companies, especially through the deployment of la Caisse's international network.

To carry out this plan, several major strategic initiatives are underway, including the opening of foreign offices and a review of investment processes so as to constantly take advantage of la Caisse's full capabilities.

HIGHLIGHTS – QUÉBEC

A BRIDGE TO GLOBAL MARKETS

La Caisse has an extensive international footprint and continues to play an important role in helping Québec companies determined to succeed in the global marketplace. It has been active in this area for several years and in 2014 completed several transactions with Québec-based companies related to their acquisition and expansion projects outside Québec.

Main initiatives in 2014:


WSP (consulting engineering): investment as part of the acquisition of Parsons Brinckerhoff Group Inc., a U.S. engineering firm with almost 13,500 employees in 170 offices worldwide. In addition to substantially enhancing WSP's presence in the United States, the acquisition enabled the firm to deepen its expertise in the transportation sector.


Agropur (agrifood industry): transaction supporting the company's growth strategy to finance its most recent acquisitions, including the dairy- processing assets of Davisco in the United States and Sobeys and Northumberland in Canada. As a result of these acquisitions, Agropur ranks among the largest North American dairy processors.




KDC (health and beauty): investment as part of the acquisition of ChemAid Laboratories in the United States. Through acquisition and development opportunities abroad, KDC expects to double its production by 2018. The company is the only North American player in its sector with the critical mass to become a dominant competitor on the international scene.


Lemay (architecture): investment as part of Lemay's acquisition of the Québec assets of IBI Group, a Toronto architectural firm. As a result of this transaction, Lemay acquired three Montréal firms as well as an interest in IBI Group China, with offices in Beijing and Shanghai.

 

DEVELOPMENT OF SMEs AND LONG-TERM GROWTH

The long-term growth of Québec SMEs is central to the strategy adopted by la Caisse, which has the ability to invest over the long run to facilitate acquisitions, modernizations and R&D by Québec companies. By contributing its patient capital and network of experts, la Caisse is a true long-term partner of the companies in which it invests.

A few of the main investments in 2014:

  • Group Germain Hotels (tourism and hospitality): As the company's partner for almost five years, la Caisse made an additional investment in the group's operations in 2014 to enable ALT Hotels to expand into new Canadian markets, namely Winnipeg, Ottawa and Calgary.
  • Crevier Group and Tornatech (energy distribution and manufacturing, respectively): With both companies carrying out succession plans, la Caisse invested to facilitate the arrival of new executives and allow these companies to continue their rapid development.
  • Capital Croissance PME fund: In partnership with Desjardins Group, close to $74 million was invested in more than 65 companies in all regions of Québec, bringing the fund's investments to $260 million in 250 companies since its inception in 2010.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP 

The vitality of Québec's entrepreneurial ecosystem is an important priority for la Caisse. It aims to foster the emergence of a new generation of entrepreneurs who will ensure the success of the companies of tomorrow.

In 2014, with the launch of the Innover. Agir. initiative, la Caisse brought together some 50 players, including about 30 entrepreneurs, to identify tangible actions and set priorities to stimulate Québec's entrepreneurial culture. Priority initiatives include an extensive campaign, particularly in schools, to make the younger generation aware of entrepreneurship, the creation of the Cercle des grands entrepreneurs du Québec to promote entrepreneurship and a program to ensure new entrepreneurs are appointed to the boards of large and medium-sized companies.

REAL ESTATE AND INFRASTRUCTURE

Real estate and infrastructure investments generate significant economic spinoffs for Québec's cities and the province as a whole.

For several years, la Caisse's real estate subsidiary Ivanhoé Cambridge has been a leading player in Québec. In 2014, in addition to acquiring a $250-million stake in Cominar, Canada's third-largest real estate investment trust, Ivanhoé Cambridge announced a new project as part of its plan for downtown Montréal. Under a joint development agreement with Manulife, it will undertake the construction of Maison Manuvie, a 27-storey building in the heart of the city. On completion, Manulife will occupy more than half of the prestigious skyscraper.

In the years to come, la Caisse will continue to be a leading player in major projects in Québec, most notably by implementing the new model for public infrastructure projects announced in early 2015.

SOME FIGURES

During the last four years, la Caisse has supported 500 SMEs in all regions of Québec in a variety of ways.

Over four years, la Caisse made $11.1 billion of new investments and commitments to Québec companies, including $2.5 billion in 2014.

As at December 31, 2014, la Caisse's assets in Québec reached $60 billion, including $35 billion in the private sector.

SOURCE Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec

For further information: Maxime Chagnon, Senior Director, Media Relations, Tel.: 514 847-5493, mchagnon@lacaisse.com

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