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Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System has hired Daniel Fournier as the new leader of its real estate arm, Oxford Properties Group, drawing the former head of a rival out of retirement to replace its departing president.

Mr. Fournier will take over as executive chair of Oxford Properties on April 1. He is a real estate veteran who was previously chairman and chief executive officer of Ivanhoé Cambridge, the property subsidiary of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, from 2010 to 2019.

He will succeed Michael Turner, who will step down after five years as president of Oxford Properties, but will continue to be involved in the group’s U.S. strategies, according to a news release.

OMERS names capital markets head as next chief investment officer

Mr. Turner has “overseen an important period of growth for Oxford,” OMERS CEO Blake Hutcheson said in a prepared statement. Mr. Turner led Oxford for five years, and spent most of his career at the property fund working in a low interest-rate environment that has been upended by aggressive central-bank rate hikes. Prior to assuming the top job at Oxford in 2018, he was in charge of its Canadian operations. In that role, he had worked closely with Mr. Hutcheson to develop the fund’s strategy of investing in major urban centres including Paris and London.

Mr. Fournier, who is in his late 60s, is returning to the helm of a major global real estate investor after more than three years spent serving on boards of directors and advisory boards at Quebec-based companies, including private equity firm Claridge Inc., fashion retailer Simons and BTB REIT.

In nearly a decade at the helm of Ivanhoé Cambridge, he was credited with consolidating the Caisse’s real estate portfolio and turning Ivanhoé into a global player. He was also at the helm when Ivanhoé developed new malls as online shopping started to become more popular. In his last few years at the fund, Ivanhoé tried to whittle down its portfolio of shopping centres across Canada.

“Mr. Fournier’s extensive experience, track record of success, and in-depth knowledge of global real estate investing will be an invaluable asset to Oxford as we enter this next phase of growth across the globe,” OMERS’s Mr. Hutcheson said.

OMERS’s real estate assets, which make up 17 per cent of its investment portfolio, earned a 9.9-per-cent return in the first half of 2022, buoyed by higher valuations and development profits from North American industrial real estate. In 2021, Oxford Properties earned investment income of $2.5-billion on a net return of 15.9 per cent.

With files from Rachelle Younglai

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