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Canadian infrastructure deals scarce but would be welcome: CPPIB chief executive

TORONTO – Officials from the country’s largest pension fund say they’d welcome the opportunity to invest in Canadian infrastructure but there’s been a limited supply of suitable assets available to purchase.

The CEO of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Mark Machin, says the Toronto-based fund manager is constantly on the hunt for purchases around the world but finds itself frequently outbid by competitors.

He told reporters at a briefing on Thursday that CPPIB would prefer to invest in Canadian infrastructure if all things were equal but there’s been a “scarcity of opportunities.”

Machin welcomed the federal government’s creation of an infrastructure bank, saying it could take care of a lot of the complexity involved with dealing with construction companies and the various levels of government.

But he said CPPIB doesn’t feel any political pressure because it has a clear mandate to maximize investment returns for the CPP Fund and operates at an arms length from all levels of government.

His comments were made as CPPIB, created in 1999, announced that 2016-17 marked one of its best years for investment returns in a decade. As of March 31, when CPPIB’s financial year ends, it had $316.7 billion in assets — up $37.8 billion from a year before through a combination of market gains and new funds.

That trails only the $45.5 million increase in 2014-15, the biggest in the past 10 years.

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