CANADA - The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) has been criticised by environmentalists for investing C$250m (US$239) in an Alberta tar sands company.
Canada's largest pension plan has purchased 8,333,333 shares in Laricina Energy for C$30 per share in a private placement. The sale will give the plan a 17% ownership level in the company.
The tar sands are huge deposits of bitumen which is turned into oil through complex and energy-intensive processes that campaigners argue cause widespread environmental damage.
Large areas of the Boreal Forest are being cleared to make way for development in tar sands extraction, which is also the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.
Though not currently commercially active, the project is expected to process 5,000 barrels of bitumen per day.
Greenpeace has openly criticised the CPP for associating itself and Canadian pensioners with "one of the most destructive industries on the planet".
"CPP's investment in the tar sands involves pensioners in a toxic legacy when they should be able to rely on an ethical, sustainable retirement plan," Greenpeace spokesman Mike Hudema said.
The CPPIB manages the pension assets of 17 million Canadians and at the end of March, the fund held C$127.6bn in assets, of which C$22.8bn was invested in private investments.
"Laricina has an experienced and proven management team and has strong growth
potential from its world class resource base," CPPIB vice-president of private investments André Bourbonnais said.
"We are pleased to be making an investment that we believe will deliver attractive returns over the long term."
The top stories this week were the High Court's decision to block the £12bn annuity transfer from Prudential to Rothesay Life, and a separate court ruling that 'raises the bar' for pension rectification exercises.
Guaranteed minimum pension (GMP) equalisation has soared to the top of pension schemes' to-do lists, with 58% stating it is a priority project, research from Equiniti has revealed.
Professional Pensions is holding its defined contribution (DC) conference on 4 September.