Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan has added several investment staff in Asia this year and plans to increase its regional headcount by a further 50% in 2021, with a focus on its new Singapore office.

The third biggest Canadian retirement fund has grown its personnel by eight to 34 across its two Asia branches – in Hong Kong and Singapore – and intends to expand the Lion City team by another 15 in 2021, a spokesman told AsianInvestor.

“We are expecting to grow the infrastructure/natural resources, high-conviction equities [HCE] and private capital teams in Singapore in the first half of next year,” he said in an email.

OTPP transferred Amit Sobti, director of private capital, from Hong Kong on December 14 to be the first member of the private equity team in the Singapore office, which opened in September. He has been with the C$207.4 billion ($160.9 billion) fund since 2016.

Sobti joins Bruce Crane, who joined in August as OTPP’s first Asia Pacific head of infrastructure from rival Ontario Municipal Employees’ Retirement System (Omers).

Kelvin Yu

OTPP also made recent additions in Hong Kong.

Kelvin Yu joined in late October to lead the Teachers’ Innovation Platform (TIP) team in Asia, bringing its regional headcount up to three. He was formerly a Shanghai-based executive president at Chinese conglomerate and investment firm Fosun Group, where he led the new retail new business investment initiative, according to his LinkedIn page.

Fosun did not respond to a request for comment sent over the weekend.

Yu joins Geoffrey Liu and Catherine Qian, senior principal and principal of the TIP team in Hong Kong, respectively.

OTPP unveiled TIP in April 2019 under Olivia Steedman to invest in innovative, high-growth companies with disruptive technology and/or business models.

STEADY EXPANSION

Yu and Sobti’s appointments follow three other hires in Hong Kong in June.

Adwait Masurkar arrived as senior principal for high-conviction equities from Hong Kong-based Cithara Investment, where he was a portfolio manager, according to his LinkedIn page. The HCE team invests across the equity capital structure, from pre-IPO to public companies.

Hannah Long and Alex Cheung also joined in June in as investment associates for private capital. The former previously worked for Chinese private equity firm CDIB Capital International and the latter covering investment bank clients at HSBC. Neither firm responded to requests for comment sent over the weekend.

OTPP had originally expected its property investment arm, Cadillac Fairview, to put its first staff on the ground in Asia this year, as regional head Ben Chan told AsianInvestor in February. But that was before the Covid-19 pandemic had really taken hold, so people were unaware of the havoc it would unleash.

The group does not yet have any real estate staff in Asia, the spokesman said, adding: “We will keep you updated.”

The Canadian pension fund has also continued to build up its partnership network in the region. In November it revealed it had, alongside Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, invested $1.5 billion of equity share capital into Singapore-based infrastructure group Equis Development.

The move – hailed as “bold” and a “no-brainer” by industry observers – set up a corporate vehicle under which the two public funds will invest as equal partners alongside Equis.

Similarly, other Canadian pension funds are moving to build out their presences in Asian, with Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Omers both eyeing expansion of their capital markets teams, for instance.