Tuesday, March 27, 2018

La Caisse Shakes Up Its Senior Ranks?

Benefits Canada reports, Caisse makes leadership changes to address competitive markets ahead:
The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec is shaking up its leadership team to address a rapidly changing and increasingly competitive market.

Macky Tall, formerly the head of the Caisse’s infrastructure portfolio, will be head of liquid markets and the Réseau express métropolitain project, the 26 station rail system currently under construction in Montreal. In addition, Tall will continue to help the pension fund’s equity and fixed income teams.

While the Caisse has hired Tall’s replacement, it hasn’t released the name because details of the transition are ongoing. However, it did note in a press release that the new head of infrastructure will start his role on June 1, 2018, and further details will be released in the coming weeks.

In further changes, Maxime Aucoin, previously senior vice-president of total portfolio, will be heading up a new investment strategies and innovation team tasked with idea generation and identification of new investment opportunities.

Claude Bergeron, executive vice-president and chief risk officer, will take on the responsibility of the team managing depositor-related activities, including investment policy framework.
La Caisse put out a brief press release on how it's positioning its team for the future:
La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec announced today that its team is evolving to position the institution in a rapidly changing and increasingly competitive market.

Recognized for his strong leadership and solid track record as head of la Caisse’s Infrastructure portfolio, Macky Tall is appointed Head, Liquid Markets and Réseau express métropolitain (REM). In his new role, he will continue to lead the REM project and bring to the equity markets and fixed income teams his extensive knowledge of key economic sectors as well as his operational experience.

In this context, a search for Mr. Tall’s replacement as head of the Infrastructure portfolio was undertaken and has resulted in identifying a strong talent who will start in the position on June 1, 2018. As the details of his transition are still being finalized with his current employer, more information, including his name and background, will be provided in the coming weeks.

Maxime Aucoin, previously Senior Vice-President, Total Portfolio, will now head a new Investment Strategies and Innovation team, in addition to being responsible for asset allocation and portfolio construction activities, and he will create a new group responsible for identifying and generating new investment opportunities. Mr. Aucoin’s appointment and the creation of this team, which will become a pillar of cross-functional innovation at la Caisse, follow the departure of Jean Michel.

The team that manages all depositor-related activities, including the advisory role and investment policy frameworks, is now under the responsibility of Claude Bergeron, Executive Vice-President and Chief Risk Officer.
“We’ve thought a lot about the best way to achieve our goals and position ourselves for the future. One thing became clear: we already have the talent, all we have to do is make the most out of it. With these appointments, that’s exactly what we’ve done. Our people will take on new roles and shed new light on our activities and how we do business. That’s what we need to keep innovating, to stay alert to changes in our environment and to seize new opportunities in an extremely competitive market,” stated Michael Sabia, President and Chief Executive Officer of la Caisse.
Macky Tall, Maxime Aucoin and Claude Bergeron will report directly to the President and CEO.

ABOUT CAISSE DE DÉPÔT ET PLACEMENT DU QUÉBEC

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) is a long-term institutional investor that manages funds primarily for public and parapublic pension and insurance plans. As at December 31, 2017, it held CAD 298.5 billion in net assets. As one of Canada’s leading institutional fund managers, CDPQ invests globally in major financial markets, private equity, infrastructure, real estate and private debt. For more information, visit cdpq.com/en, follow us on Twitter @LaCDPQ or consult our Facebook or LinkedIn pages.
Any time la Caisse shakes up its senior ranks, the street in Montreal gets nervous. "Who's in power? Do I know them? Can I get more business out of them?"

I'm being facetious, of course, and you'll excuse me since my attention these days isn't on long-term pensions but short-term trading opportunities in these volatile markets (you can track my thoughts on StockTwits here and have fun looking at these crazy markets real time through my eyes).

The big news is that Macky Tall has taken a lot more responsibility at la Caisse, and is now in charge of REM and liquid markets. This is a huge and well-deserved promotion for Macky who is a very low profile type of guy.

Importantly, while some are questioning the appointment of Macky Tall to lead REM and liquid markets, his profile actually fits perfectly with the organization's long-term strategic vision and I believe Michael Sabia is sending a message to the troops by appointing him as head of liquid markets: there will be zero tolerance for any arrogance whatsoever.

Macky is known for his outstanding leadership, hard work ethic and humility. He's an excellent leader who knows how to lead effectively and while he doesn't micromanage, he will be on top of developments and ask a lot of important questions.

Sure, he will have a bit of a learning curve in order to grasp everything going on in liquid markets, but there are plenty of good people who will help him during this ramp-up phase.

I personally think Sabia is sending a clear message that he wants more stability across the organization and the right culture to deliver outstanding results, which is why he entrusted Macky with such enormous responsibility.

Even within CDPQ Infra, Macky has no tolerance for arrogance which is why he was very careful in who he brought in from other organizations where arrogance is part of the culture.

Who will replace Macky at CDPQ Infra? I know of a couple of outstanding candidates but I honestly have no idea who it will be yet so any educated guess will be pure speculation on my part.

As far as Claude Bergeron, I never met the man but heard nothing but good things about him. One person who worked with him years ago shared this with me: "c'est un brilliant qui a travaillé dans tous les grands dossiers de la Caisse" (he's a brilliant person who worked on all the major files at la Caisse over the years). He will do an outstanding job with depositors.

Maxime Aucoin, previously Senior Vice-President, Total Portfolio, will now head a new Investment Strategies and Innovation team, in addition to being responsible for asset allocation and portfolio construction activities, and he will create a new group responsible for identifying and generating new investment opportunities.

Mr. Aucoin has obviously impressed Michael Sabia a lot and was rewarded with a job that carries enormous responsibility but also a lot of very interesting challenges.

I have not met Maxime Aucoin, Claude Bergeron, or Macky Tall but heard excellent feedback from people who work with them. Notice they will all report directly to Michael Sabia which fits with his hierarchical style (he probably wants less direct reports and I don't blame him).

I was surprised to learn Jean Michel is leaving as he was a very capable leader at Air Canada Pension prior to joining la Caisse three years ago. Someone told me if you look at the Caisse's 2017 results it might explain the shake-up in senior ranks, but I don't come to the same conclusion.

What else? There is a lot of garbage being published in major Quebec newspapers on the Réseau express métropolitain (REM). Even Quebec's Premier Philippe Couillard was swayed by some of this nonsense, joining Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante in demanding more transparency on the service monopolies obtained by the Réseau express métropolitain (REM), the electric train project that will serve the Montreal area between Brossard and Deux-Montagnes.

A lot of this nonsense is being fed by the heavily biased political minions at l’Agence de transport de Montréal, mostly péquiste-appointed separatists at that organization who have opposed the REM project from the get-go, fearing it will cost them jobs and power.

Without getting into details, don't believe everything you read in Quebec's major newspapers, a lot of it is fake news, misinformation or purely sloppy reporting, like the Caisse's $300 million REM cost overrun. It's actually embarrassing how so many smart people believe this nonsense (la Caisse isn't trying to destroy the ATM, it wants to work with it and other stakeholders to ensure the success of this project).

In fact, Macky Tall addressed some concerns raised by the media recently on French television:



Below, Clive Condie, Chief Executive at Churchill Airports Ltd interviewed Macky Tall who was then Vice-President of Investment Infrastructure at the Global Airport Development 2011 conference.

Macky has worked very hard to get to where he is at CDPQ and I wish him a lot of success in this new role heading up liquid markets and with the REM project.

Also, Sébastien Bovet and Gérald Fillion speak with Bruno Savard of Téléjournal Québec on Quebec‘s Budget 2018 which was revealed late today. The interview is in French and basically they state that the Liberal government gave goodies to everyone going into fall elections.

You can read more about the budget here to obtain details on how it will affect you but from what I heard, there is increased spending on infrastructure and they will expand the blue line in the metro which should appease some of the political minions at the STM spreading lies on the REM project.


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