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ROGER TAYLOR: CPP's investment head says sticking with oil and gas companies will help wind, solar development – Cape Breton Post

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Climate change is important to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, but it’s not ready to divest of its holdings in conventional oil and gas.

Although a segment of the Canadian population may want the CPPIB to drop conventional energy, the board’s top spokesman says its investment decisions are not necessarily motivated by politics or a change in public policy.

Michel Leduc, CPPIB senior managing director and global head of public affairs and communications, said in a phone interview on Monday that conventional energy sources are not going away as quickly as some people may believe, and oil and gas will have a role in the global economy for some time to come.

Michel Leduc is senior managing director and global head of public affairs and communications at the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. – Contributed

It is the investment board’s view that conventional oil and gas is still a good investment, providing a good return for years to come, said Leduc, and the board will maintain such investments.

The conventional oil and gas companies are making the switch to unconventional wind and solar energy themselves, Leduc argued, so if the CPPIB was to cut its investment in such companies it would actually help slow the transition from conventional to renewable energy.

The subject of energy may come up again Tuesday when Leduc hosts a CPPIB virtual town hall for Nova Scotians, during which he will explain what the investment board is doing with its $430-billion fund.

Every second year, the CPPIB holds public meetings individually for each province and the northern territories throughout October. Nova Scotia is the second last of year’s presentations.

There are a total of 20 million CPP contributors and beneficiaries in Canada and, of that, there are 461,799 contributors and 220,693 retirement beneficiaries in Nova Scotia.

Leduc said that despite the economic concern brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the solvency and sustainability of the Canada Pension Plan is on solid footing for at least the next 75 years.

Before the creation of the CPPIB in 1997, the Canada Pension Plan was 100 per cent invested in government debt, Leduc said. To better prepare for so-called black swan events, such as a pandemic, the investment board has diversified the fund.

The fund is invested in three broad categories: 20 per cent in fixed income, which is mainly sovereign bonds and provincial bonds; 53 per cent in equities, both publicly traded stocks and private companies wholly controlled by the CPPIB; and the remainder would be in real assets, which includes toll roads, commercial real estate and ports, which provide steady income for a long period.

Geographically, only about 15 per cent of the CPPIB’s investments are in Canada, Leduc said, and about 85 per cent is invested across the developed economies of the world.

Considering that Canada represents only about three per cent of global markets, most of the CPPIB investments are outside of the country to be fully diversified and protect the fund from downturns in the Canadian economy.

The largest portion of the outside investments are in the United States, followed by Europe, Japan, South Korea and then developing countries, which includes China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Colombia.

In Canada, the fund is invested in both conventional and renewable energy, the financial sector and technology, including Ottawa-based tech darling Shopify, Leduc said.

The CPPIB has a 50 per cent holding in the 401 toll highway in Ontario, which has proven to be the investment board’s biggest return on investment so far, he said.

In Nova Scotia, the fund has investments in Empire Co. Ltd., parent of the Sobeys grocery chain, and Crombie REIT, both of which are controlled by the founding Sobey family of Pictou County.

Internationally, the CPPIB owns 23 ports in the United Kingdom, which also provide steady income over a long period.


CPPIB VIRTUAL TOWN HALL

The virtual Canada Pension Plan Investment Board town halls are accessed at cppinvestments.com/publicmeetings. The Nova Scotia session is scheduled for today from noon to 1 p.m.

To join, click the link for the meeting and register with an email address. Registrants will get a response and can submit a question in advance.

In Nova Scotia, 461,799 residents are CPP contributors (47.9 per cent of the provincial population) and 220,693 are CPP retirement beneficiaries (22.9 per cent of the population).

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Vancouver investment firm bought under fraudulent circumstances: IIROC – Powell River Peak

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Vancouver-headquartered investment firm PI Financial Corporation was purchased under fraudulent pretences, according to allegations set out in a notice of hearing from Canada’s investment regulator.

The Investment Industry Regulatory Organization (IIROC) alleges Gary Man Kin Ng and Donald Warren Metcalfe duped their lenders, who assisted them in buying PI Financial in 2018 for $100 million.

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Ng personally guaranteed the loans used to buy the firm, however, “despite his representations, Ng did not actually own, control or have trading authority over the securities accounts pledged as collateral,” according to IIROC. “Instead, ownership and control of the collateral was falsified by Ng and Metcalfe.”

Before buying PI Financial, which is said to employ over 300 people across Canada, Ng, 36, was an Approved Person and a Registered Representative for selling securities. He owned a Winnipeg-based firm named Chippingham Financial Group Limited via various corporate structures referred to by IIROC as the Ng Group. In November 2018, Ng, through the Ng Group, acquired a 100% controlling interest in PI Financial, IIROC stated in a notice of hearing that has scheduled a preliminary appearance on January 6, 2021.

Ng is said to have borrowed $80 million from “Lender One” and $20 million from “Lender Two.”
As security for the loans, “Ng purportedly granted separate, unencumbered security interests to Lender One, and also to Lender Two, over collateral including certain Chippingham securities accounts (later PI Financial accounts) which were owned by him,” stated IIROC, adding such representations were fake.

Ng is accused of “vastly overstating” the value of assets in the accounts and altering securities account statements.

“Metcalfe also perpetrated a fraud as he directly and actively participated with Ng in the falsification and distribution of false and/or fictitious account documentation to lenders,” it said in the November 24 notice of hearing.

In addition to the $100 million to buy PI Financial, Ng and Metcalfe borrowed a further $40 million from Lender Two and then $32 million from a third lender – all based on falsified collateral.

Although PI Financial was 100% owned by Ng, company officials “became aware of the issues concerning Ng’s purported ownership of securities accounts at the end of January 2020, and immediately reported these matters to IIROC,” the notice states.

Both men failed to attend an interview with IIROC enforcement staff over the summer.

IIROC said, “Ng, who was born in 1984, represented himself to others as an extremely successful businessperson who created enormous personal wealth through highly successful technology, real estate and manufacturing investments in Canada and China.”

At the time of the PI Financial purchase, Ng spoke of the deal with BNN Bloomberg, whose hosts noted how unique the deal was, given most investment firms are bought by large corporate entities, not individuals.

Metcalfe, meanwhile, was someone who worked initially with Ng at Chippingham.

Some details of the alleged lies are outlined in the notice. For example, several accounts Ng purported to have a value of $91 million actually had a value of $1.9 million.

IIROC proceedings are civil and not criminal. Should the allegations be proven, Ng and Metcalfe face any of the following corrective measures: a reprimand; disgorgement of any losses; a maximum $5 million fine; suspension or prohibition of activities; and a permanent ban from the industry.

gwood@glaciermedia.ca
 

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Investment firms cautious on reopening plans, notification procedures – Investment Executive

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Financial sector could be a Covid-19 long hauler: Fitch

Banks in particular face future earnings, ratings challenges due to pandemic

Crisis coming in seniors’ care if governments don’t shift investments: report

Current spending levels of 1.3% of GDP could soar to 4.2% by 2041, says report

  • By: IE Staff
  • November 27, 2020
    November 27, 2020
  • 11:44

Global house prices rose in the face of Covid-19: BIS

Canada among the housing market leaders, both short and long term

Markets move past election uncertainty

With Biden’s transition underway, investors have shifted their focus to Covid vaccines and economic recovery

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Takeaways from our 2021 investment outlook: Legacy of the lockdowns – Investors' Corner BNP Paribas

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Here we summarise the big picture for investors at the end of 2020. This constitutes the starting point for our 2021 investment outlook.

  • Since the 2008 global financial crisis, the global economy has been mired in anaemic growth and weak demand, tempered by consistently rising asset prices.
  • In 2020 the global economy faced a crisis of unprecedented magnitude (see Exhibit 1 below) after the pandemic lockdowns. After a contraction of 4.4% in 2020 the IMF forecasts global growth of 5.4% in 2021. Overall, this would leave 2021 GDP some 6.5% lower than in the pre-COVID-19 projections of January 2020. The adverse impact on low-income households is particularly acute, imperilling the significant progress made in reducing extreme poverty over the last 30 years. Countering inequality is a key challenge to be met in 2021 and beyond.

Exhibit 1: Largest decline since WWII – graph shows change in world gross domestic product (inflation-adjusted, in %)

Source: BNP Paribas Asset Management, as of 26/11/2020

  • Under the best-case scenario, one or more vaccines for COVID-19 become widely available by the second half of 2021. Otherwise, the disease remains a longer-term threat requiring us to ‘live with’ the virus – repeated lockdowns will not be a sustainable long-term strategy.
  • In 2020, advanced economies loosened the monetary and fiscal reins most spectacularly. Debt-to-GDP ratios soared, rising for many countries by more than they did in the years after the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Major central banks have largely financed the increase in budget deficits, monetising an expanding national debt, much as Japan has done.
  • One way to understand the weakness in aggregate economic demand is to study real interest rates (the ‘price’ of money in the economy). In 2006, the real yield of the 10-year inflation-protected US Treasury bond was between 2% and 3%. Since 2010, its yield has mostly been below 1%, including a spell in negative territory both in 2012 and again in 2020. Negative real yields are now common to the G3 economies (see Exhibit 2 below) and beyond. In 60% of the global economy — including 97% of advanced economies — central banks have pushed policy interest rates to below 1%. In one-fifth of the world, policy rates are negative.

Exhibit 2: Real yields are now negative for G3 sovereign debt – graph shows changes in real yields for US, Japanese and eurozone government debt between 1997 and 16/11/2020.

Source: BNP Paribas Asset Management, as of 26/11/2020

  • In 2020, these meagre interest rates, along with cheap, low-risk liquidity from central banks, led asset prices higher. Risk premia for risky assets shrank. Companies whose revenues have plummeted — cruise lines, airlines, cinemas — were able to borrow money in 2020 to survive. Investors had few higher-yield options. Will central banks continue to supply such liquidity in 2021?
  • And how is all this debt to be paid for? The appropriate historical parallel is perhaps the post-World War II period, when central banks capped bond yields at levels well below the trend GDP growth rate to gradually reduce the national debt as a proportion of GDP.
  • Alternatively, instead of financial repression and inflation (as post WW2), the extraordinarily low real interest rates we have seen over the past decade could help achieve fiscal sustainability. It would, however, be imprudent to count on it. No policymaker should expect real interest rates to remain persistently below the growth rate of real GDP. Indeed, forecast imbalances in planned global savings and investment could drive real interest rates higher (ageing societies save a lot, but old societies do not).
  • Another risk is that improved real trend growth does not come to the rescue. Lower global growth after the pandemic accompanied by inadequate fiscal stimulus would leave marginal sections of the economy vulnerable to collapse. Such an outcome would test the paradigm of modest growth, low inflation and supportive central bank policy that has supported asset prices since 2008.

Today we face three interconnected crises – health, economic and climate. The instability provoked by the pandemic presents a window of opportunity to pivot in a new direction. Long-term environmental viability, equality and inclusive growth are essential pre-conditions to a sustainable economy. By taking a holistic, systemic, long-term view, we are less likely to be surprised by crises and better able to manage them.

For in-depth insights into what’s next for the global economy and markets, read our 2021 investment outlook, ‘Legacy of the lockdowns’


Any views expressed here are those of the author as of the date of publication, are based on available information, and are subject to change without notice. Individual portfolio management teams may hold different views and may take different investment decisions for different clients. The views expressed in this podcast do not in any way constitute investment advice.

The value of investments and the income they generate may go down as well as up and it is possible that investors will not recover their initial outlay. Past performance is no guarantee for future returns.

Investing in emerging markets, or specialised or restricted sectors is likely to be subject to a higher-than-average volatility due to a high degree of concentration, greater uncertainty because less information is available, there is less liquidity or due to greater sensitivity to changes in market conditions (social, political and economic conditions).

Some emerging markets offer less security than the majority of international developed markets. For this reason, services for portfolio transactions, liquidation and conservation on behalf of funds invested in emerging markets may carry greater risk.

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