The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec will likely lag other major pension funds this year because it missed out on the stock market rebound, says the province's Finance Minister.
"I don't expect the Caisse to outdo the markets this year," Raymond Bachand said Wednesday in an interview with Radio-Canada television.
"The Caisse was underweight in stocks, and given that stock markets have rebounded considerably, the Caisse's results will certainly not exceed those of competing pension funds or industry peers," he said.
The comments were made after La Presse reported Wednesday that the Caisse is in line to post a return on investments of about 5 or 6 per cent for 2009, compared with an average increase of 10 to 12 per cent for Canadian pension funds. The article cited unidentified sources.
The Caisse reported a staggering $40-billion loss on its investments last year, equal to a negative return of 25 per cent, compared with an average return of minus 18 per cent for its rivals.
Stung by its sizable exposure to currency and futures contracts, as well as the decimated third-party commercial paper market, the Caisse under new chief Michael Sabia moved to install more stringent risk management systems.
It also made major management changes and did not hire a new chief investment officer until July of this year, months after the big rebound in the stock market.
In August, the Caisse reported that it suffered a difficult first half of the year, with $5.7-billion in writedowns related to risky commercial real estate loans and private equity bets.
The writedowns wiped out the 5 per cent return the Caisse had earned on other investments to June 30, resulting in a "neutral" performance overall up to that date.
Mr. Bachand said he continues to have full confidence in Mr. Sabia and the corrective measures he has taken at the pension fund giant.
The Caisse is expected to report its 2009 results in February.