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OMERS to launch €15bn infrastructure alliance

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GLOBAL - One of Canada's largest pension funds has promised to launch a CAD$20bn (€15bn) infrastructure investment alliance by the end of the year, with up to four-fifths of assets allocated toward European projects.

Speaking at the National Association of Pension Funds Investment Conference underway in Edinburgh, Jacques Demers, president and chief executive of OMERS Strategic Investments, said discussions had been ongoing for the last 15 months and that he expected to launch the investment alliance by the end of the year.

"We have had some discussions with a number of institutions represented in the room today," he said, following a lecture outlining the various investments of the CAD$53bn Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS).

Demers said the proposals were for a global co-investment alliance - "we call it a global strategic investment alliance" - to pursue the large-scale infrastructure assets.

"Not less than 80% in western Europe, including the UK, and North America, excluding Mexico," he said, adding that the remaining 20% would be invested in other regions.

He further said their partners in the US and Western Europe would be able to access OMERS infrastructure expertise and its team through a shared platform.

OMERS's most recent high-profile infrastructure investment in Europe is the High Speed 1 rail link in the UK - more commonly known as the UK segment of the Eurostar route from London to Paris - which it acquired for £2.1bn (€2.5bn) in partnership with the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan.

Demers said the scheme preferred partnering on large projects to control risk exposure.

This was particularly important for OMERS after the volatile market led to a loss of 15% in 2008, leaving the scheme in deficit, but on target for full funding by 2017.

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