The press release states, “OMERS, one of Canada’s largest pension plans, today announced its 2012 financial results. OMERS net assets grew to $60.8 billion, rising by $5.7 billion in 2012 and by over $17 billion since the 2008 global credit crisis. Now in its 50th year, OMERS is an active, diversified investor, pension innovator, and an engine of economic growth and employment in Ontario and Canada.
OMERS total Plan investment return of 10% was driven by strong performance in its private market portfolio and solid public market performance in line with expectations and current market conditions.
“OMERS had a strong year in 2012. The $5.7 billion increase in our net assets demonstrates the strength and robustness of OMERS business model with the capacity to generate growing investment cash yields and more than ample liquidity to withstand market shocks under stressed financial conditions,” said Michael Nobrega, OMERS President and CEO.
OMERS private market portfolio had a 13.8% investment return – with returns of 19.2% (OMERS Private Equity), 16.9% (Oxford Properties), 12.7% (Borealis Infrastructure) and negative 10.1% (OMERS Strategic Investments). OMERS Strategic Investments, which represents less than two and a half per cent of OMERS net investments, has its principal assets in Alberta’s oil and gas sector. The year-end valuation of these assets was negatively impacted as oil and gas prices fell to their lowest levels in five years.
OMERS Capital Markets, which manages the public market portfolio including public equities, fixed income and debt investments, generated a 7.5% return.
Progress against Strategic Goals
In 2003 OMERS adopted its current strategic plan including an investment strategy designed to provide balance between public and private market assets and to generate long-term, stable cash flows while maintaining liquidity. The strategy has evolved to incorporate avenues for the growth of Plan assets and a “direct-drive” ownership model providing OMERS with greater control of its investments at a lower cost.
“As a pension plan we are focused on our ability to pay pensions to our members over the long term in spite of factors such as the increasing average age of Plan members, low interest rates and volatility in the public equity markets. Our strategy is continuing to evolve to provide us with a fortress-like balance sheet that enables the growth of our assets while maintaining the necessary liquidity to withstand market disruptions,” said Mr. Nobrega.
One of the key drivers of the strategic plan is OMERS asset mix. OMERS ended the year with 60% of its assets in the public markets and 40% in private market assets, compared with 82% public and 18% private before the new strategy was implemented nine years ago. Our long-term goal is to achieve a mix of approximately 53% public and 47% private market investments.
A second key driver is the strategic priority to directly own and actively manage investments rather than retaining external fund managers. OMERS ended the year with 88% of the portfolio now managed in-house, up from 74% five years ago. The long-term goal is to reach 95% of the portfolio managed internally.”
Read more: OMERS Press Release
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), a United Nations programme headquartered in New York City, has partnered with Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) to facilitate a series of meetings between companies to discuss issues surrounding children’s human rights.
According to the news release, “the network will facilitate dialogue between leading brands and retailers in the garment and footwear industry to strengthen children’s rights.”
NBIM is invested in many listed companies and have invited them to join a network to tackle these issues. Over the next two years, the organizations plan to hold three workshops as well as quarterly meetings surrounding these issues.
“Over time, we hope and expect that the network will contribute to improved market practices among companies and greater respect for children’s rights,” says Carine Smith Ihenacho, Global Head of Ownership Strategies, in a NBIM press release.
The China Investment Corporation (CIC) has long struggled with its investments in coal assets, specifically in globally-listed coal miner SouthGobi Resources Ltd, which operates its flagship coal mine in Mongolia. In November 2009, CIC and SouthGobi Resources inked a convertible debenture deal. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]
MSCI, a stock index company whose benchmarks influence investor behavior, has tremendous indirect power impacting the stock markets of smaller economies. In 1988, MSCI released its emerging markets index, a now-widely-used benchmark for many institutional investors wanting access to growth markets. China and South Korea make up the majority of the benchmark, but smaller economies such as Poland, Chile and even Qatar make up other pieces of it.
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