Canadian Pension Seeks US Investment Chief

CPP Investment Board, which invests on behalf of Canada Pension Plan, is looking to hire a director to oversee an expansion of its real estate investments in the U.S.

The $124 billion pension system, which owns stakes in 17 U.S. properties, plans to ramp up its U.S. acquisitions to take advantage of lower prices. Last week, CPP and Kimco Realty of New Hyde Park, N.Y., announced a joint venture to target prime shopping centers nationwide. The initial $370 million investment includes five properties from Kimco's portfolio. CPP holds a 45% stake in the joint venture.

The Toronto-based director would identify and execute acquisitions, as well as manage the existing portfolio. The staffer would also oversee investments in Brazil. At least 10 years of experience is required, including a track record with U.S. acquisitions. The search is being handled by BCGI American Real Estate Executive Search of New York.

The position reports to Peter Ballon, who held the post until about six months ago, when he was promoted to vice president and head of real estate investments in the Americas. He replaced Andrew Blair, who left CPP.

CPP had $7.1 billion of real estate investments in joint ventures and funds at yearend. Most of its portfolio consists of office and retail properties in Canada. However, CPP also has holdings in Mexico, Brazil, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the U.S.

Among its higher-profile U.S. holdings is a 39% stake in a 2.8 million-square-foot portfolio of Denver office properties. CPP teamed up with Callahan Capital Partners of Chicago and Morgan Stanley to acquire the portfolio in April 2007 for $770 million from New York-based Blackstone Group, which flipped the properties following its massive takeover of Equity Office Properties of Chicago.

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